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Nissan 

Institute 

Routledge 
Japanese 
S t II I) i e s 

patriarchal fictions, patricidal fantasies Series 

Helene Bowen Raddeker 





Treacherous Women of Imperial Japan 



The Nissan Institute/Routledge Japanese Studies Series 
Editorial Board 

J.A.A. Stockwin, Nissan Professor of Modern Japanese Studies, 
University of Oxford and Director, Nissan Institute of Japanese Studies 
Teigo Yoshida, formerly Professor of the University of Tokyo, 
and now Professor, Obirin University, Tokyo 
Frank Langdon, Professor, Institute of International Relations, 
University of British Columbia, Canada 

Alan Rix, Professor of Japanese, The University of Queensland 
Junji Banno, Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo 
Leonard Schoppa, University of Virginia 

Other titles in the series: 

The Myth of Japanese Uniqueness, Peter Dale 

The Emperor’s Adviser: Saionji Kinmochi and Pre-war Japanese Politics, Lesley Connors 
A History of Japanese Economic Thought, Tessa Morris Suzuki 
The Establishment of the Japanese Constitutional System, Junji Banno, translated by 
J.A.A. Stockwin 

Industrial Relations in Japan: the Peripheral Workforce, Norma Chalmers 

Banking Policy in Japan: American Efforts at Reform During the Occupation, William M. Tsutsui 

Education Reform in Japan, Leonard Schoppa 

How the Japanese Learn to Work, Ronald P. Dore and Mari Sako 

Japanese Economic Development: Theory and Practice, Penelope Francks 

Japan and Protection: The Growth of Protectionist Sentiment and the Japanese Response, Syed 
Javed Mar wood 

The Soil, by Nagastsuka Takashi: a Portrait of Rural Life in Meiji Japan, translated and with an 
introduction by Ann Waswo 
Biotechnology in Japan, Malcolm Brock 

Britain’s Educational Reform: a Comparison with Japan, Mike Howarth 
Language and the Modern State: the Reform of Written Japanese, Nanette Twine 
Industrial Harmony in Modern Japan: the Invention of a Tradition, W. Dean Kinzley 
Japanese Science Fiction: a View of a Changing Society, Robert Matthew 

The Japanese Numbers Game: the Use and Understanding of Numbers in Modern Japan, Thomas 
Crump 

Ideology and Practice in M odem Japan, Roger Goodman and Kirsten Refsing 

Technology and Industrial ] Development in pre-War Japan, Yukiko Fukasaku 

Japan’s Early Parliaments 1890-1905, Andrew Fraser, R.H.P. Mason and Philip Mitchell 

Japan’s Foreign Aid Challenge, Alan Rix 

Emperor Hirohito and Showa Japan, Stephen S. Large 

Japan: Beyond the End of History, David Williams 

Ceremony and Ritual in Japan: Religious Practices in an Industrialized Society, Jan van Bremen 
and D.P. Martinez 

Understanding Japanese Scciety: Second Edition, Joy Hendry 

The Fantastic in Modern Japanese Literature: The Subversion of Modernity, Susan J. Napier 

Militarization and Demilitarization in Contemporary Japan, Glenn D. Hook 

Growing a Japanese Science City: Communication in Scientific Research, James W. Dearing 

Architecture and Authority in Japan, William H. Coaldrake 

Women’s Gidayu and the J ipanese Theatre Tradition, A. Kimi Coaldrake 

Democracy in Post-war Japan, Rikki Kersten 



ROUTUDGE 


Treacherous Women of 
Imperial Japan 

Patriarchal fictions, patricidal fantasies 


Helene Bowen Raddeker 


* 

London and New York 



First published 1997 by Routledge 
1 1 New Fetter Lane, London EC4P 4EE 

Simultaneously published in the USA and Canada 
by Routledge 

29 West 35th Street, New York, NY 10001 

© 1997 Helene Bowen Raddeker 

Typeset in Times by BC Typesetting, Bristol 
Printed and bound in Great Britain by 
TJ International Ltd, Padstow, Cornwall 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or 
reproduced or utilized in any form or by an electronic, mechanical, 
or other means, now xnown or hereafter invented, including 
photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or 
retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. 

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data 
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library 

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data 
Raddeker, Helene Bowen, 1952— 

Treacherous women of imperial Japan: patriarchal fictions, 
patricidal fantasies/ Helene Bowen Raddeker. 

p. cm. - (Nissan Institute/Routledge Japanese studies 

series) 

Includes bibliographical references and index. 

ISBN 0—415—171 1 2—1 (alk. paper) 

1. Kanno, Sugako, 1881-1911. 2. Kaneko, Fumiko, 1902-1926. 

3. Anarchists-Japan -Biography. 4. Socialist-Japan-Biography. 

5. Japan-History-20th century-Biography. 6. Japan-Biography. 

7. Meiji, Emperor of Japan, 1852- 191 2-Assassination attempt, 1910. 

8. Taisho, Emperor of Japan, 1879-1926-Assassination attempt, 
1923. 9. Hirohito, Emperor of Japan, 1901-1989-Assassination 
attempt, 1923. I. Title. II. Series. 

DS885.5.A1R34 1998 

952.03' l'0922-dc21 97-23328 

CIP 

ISBN 0-415-17112-1 



Contents 


Acknowledgements vi 

Part I Preliminaries 

1 Treason and treachery, documents and discourse 3 

2 The work (structure, logic, method) 14 

Part II Engagements with death 

3 Kanno Suga: ‘The unswerving path’ 39 

4 Kaneko Fumiko: ‘The will to die’ 63 

5 Commentary: discourse on death and beyond 88 

6 Commentary: martyrs, niiilists and other rebel heroes 113 

Part III Life-narratives 

7 Kanno Suga (1902-1911) 139 

8 Kaneko Fumiko (1922-1926) 191 

Epilogue 233 

Notes 237 

Select bibliography of Japanese sources 270 

Index 277 



Acknowledgements 


This book was over ten years in the making. In that total I would have 
to include three preparatory years in Japan as a Monbusho (Japanese 
Ministry of Education) research student as well as the few years it took 
to get the doctoral manuscript into book form. I have, therefore, ‘lived 
with’ and, I think, been on good terms with, Kanno Suga and Kaneko 
Fumiko for a good part of my l ife. 

The individuals whose support I should acknowledge are innumer- 
able, but I must first express my heartfelt thanks to Professor Gavan 
McCormack, my first supervisor in the History Department, La 
Trobe University, Melbourne. Without his faith in my abilities, I 
doubt I would have considered embarking even on Honours research. 

My second supervisor, Dr Sandra Wilson, was also a constant 
source of encouragement and good advice. To her I extend my 
thanks for her sure grip on the editor’s pen and patience in the face 
of my stubbornness. Inspiration and support has always been forth- 
coming also from Dr Vera Mackie of the Department of History, 
University of Melbourne. 

During my first stay in Japan (1983-1986), I met many people who 
were kind and helpful. Apart from my supervisor, Professor Oguchi 
Yujiro, and Professor Tachi Kaoru, both of Ochanomizu Women’s 
University, and also Professor Asukai Masamichi of Kyoto Univer- 
sity, there were two who had already given me encouragement at La 
Trobe University in 1982: Professors Matsuzawa Tessei and Tsurumi 
Shunsuke. The latter acquainted me with the case of Kaneko Fumiko, 
and the respect with which he spoke of her led me to include her in my 
doctoral research. I could not fail to acknowledge also the inspiration 
and assistance provided by the anarchist publishers, Kokushoku 
Sensensha. Their bookshop and library - even their ancient photo- 
copier - proved invaluable. To them I offer my gratitude, solidarity 
and best wishes for the future. 



Acknowledgements vii 


When I was finishing my doctoral thesis while teaching history at 
the University of Adelaide, I was also fortunate to receive the practical 
assistance of Dr Yoneyama Shoko in particular. She, Ms Aoki Naomi 
and Mrs Taguchi Kazuyo were all very patient in the face of persistent 
questioning on points of linguistic-cultural meaning. In this con- 
nection I must also thank a student, Mr Takabatake Ken, who once 
helped me to wade through some near-illegible handwritten documen- 
tation in Japanese. 

There are others, too, to whom I would like to express my apprecia- 
tion for the part they have played in my education, including, of 
course, my students, but I must acknowledge a huge debt to the His- 
tory Department at La Trobe University. I was even more appreciative 
of the high level of discourse there on historiography and history 
theory when I began in 1990 to teach my own courses in modern 
and premodern Japanese history. That scholars there constituted a 
large part of my intellectual origins will be clear to some from the 
very beginning of this work. 

Finally, my sincere thanks must also be extended to the solid- 
arity olfered by two comrades in the field, E. Patricia Tsurumi and 
John Crump, only one of whom I have been fortunate enough to 
meet as yet. To another ‘comrade’, distinguished Chinese historian. 
Dr Carney Fisher: ‘Mata, ne!’ 

Helene Bowen Raddeker 
School of History 
The University of New South Wales 




Kamo Suga 






Part I 

Preliminaries 




1 Treason and treachery, 
documents and discourse 


EULOGIES 

Would anything at all remain for us of what they have been, in their 
violence or their singular misfortune, if they had not, at a given 
moment, collided with power and provoked its forces? After all, 
is it not one of the fundamental traits of our society that destiny 
takes the form of the relation to power, of the struggle along 
with or against it? The most intense point of lives, the one where 
their energy is concentrated, is precisely there where they clash 
with power, struggle with it, endeavour to utilise its forces or to 
escape its traps. The brief and strident words which come and go 
between power and the most unessential existences, are doubtless 
for the latter the sole monument that has ever been accorded to 
them; these words are what gives to them, in order to travel through 
time, the brief flash of sound and fury which carries them even 
to us. 1 

The ‘in-famous’ individuals spoken of here by Michel Foucault, in an 
essay entitled ‘The Life of Infamous Men’, were not so much notorious 
as obscure people whose ‘crimes’ were remarkable mostly for their 
ordinariness. Amongst these petty ‘criminals’ we find the ‘scandalous 
monk’, the ‘battered woman’, the ‘inveterate and raging drunkard’ 
and the ‘quarrelsome merchant’, but there are none accused of any- 
thing so grim as plotting regicide. 2 We find amongst them no allegedly 
treasonous subjects of the like of Kanno Suga (1881-1911) and 
Kaneko Fumiko (1903-1926). In another part of the world, Japan, 
at least a century and a half after Foucault’s citizens collided with 
power, these two women achieved real ‘infamy’ when they were 
charged within fifteen years of each other, with conspiring to assassi- 
nate the reigning emperors. And, questions of their guilt or innocence 
of high treason aside, the conduct of both during the trials revealed 



4 Preliminaries 

them to be treacherous indeed. For Suga and Fumiko 3 were guilty of 
more than failing to honour the allegiance to the sovereign expected of 
modern Japanese citizens: each dared either to criticize or soundly 
condemn this ‘godly father of the nation’ or, rather, his creation and 
use as such for political ends in the name of the modem nation- 
state. In proudly taking up the name of ‘traitor’ - Suga as an anar- 
chist, Fumiko as a nihilist - each of these undutiful daughters of the 
emperor set herself up in direct antagonism to the modern emperor- 
system. 

The clashes with power that brought Kanno Suga and Kaneko 
Fumiko infamy were not as brief as those of Foucault’s petty criminals 
- the brief ‘monuments’ to whose existences amount to no more than 
petitions (to the king), judgements and internment records. The first of 
the two Japanese legal cases lasted eight months, while the second 
extended over a peri 3d of two and a half years. Thus, the records of 
their exchanges with prosecutors and judges amount to rather more 
than a few ‘brief and strident words’. In both cases, moreover, par- 
ticularly Suga’s, pre imprisonment texts are extant. Yet despite the 
comparatively extensive documentation, we could still ask whether 
anything would have remained of them if not for their ultimate colli- 
sions with state power. Surely Kanno Suga would have been restored 
to history for other reasons: she was one of the first feminist-socialists 
in the early socialist movement in the Meiji era (1868-1912) and also 
one of the first female journalists in Japan. If the movement in recent 
decades to restore women to history had not occurred, her romance 
with Kotoku Shusui, the undisputed leader of the radical wing of 
the Meiji socialist movement, would have ensured her a place, albeit 
a small one, in the h story books. Indeed, she was for a time treated 
as a romantic heroine largely by virtue of that relationship. 4 

In Kaneko Fumiko’s case, on the other hand, it is doubtful that she 
would be known to history if she had not clashed with power. There 
was little amongst her activities before her imprisonment to suggest 
that even her name would be known to us today, if not for her sub- 
sequent notoriety. No doubt Fumiko would be amused by the irony 
of her accusers’ securing her a place in history, something which few 
of them would be accorded. The mostly nameless police, prosecutors 
or judges involved ir the case could not have foreseen that in one 
sense ‘victims’ like her would have the last say: power ‘marked [her] 
with a blow of its c aws’, certainly, but it also ‘instigated the few 
words which are left for us’ of her life and her resistance. 5 Almost 
all of the available written and oral texts by Fumiko were produced 
in prison or the courtroom. 



Treason and treachery, documents and discourse 5 

Yet there is another reason for the restoration to history of these 
two ‘traitors’: the manner of their deaths. For Suga and Fumiko not 
only collided with power, but died in the impact. The first was 
found guilty of Use majeste and executed a week later on 25 January 
1911; while the second was likewise sentenced to death in March 
1926 but had her sentence commuted to life imprisonment soon 
after. This was a few months before her suicide, on 23 July 1926, 
was reported by prison authorities. It has been said that history is 
about dead people, and in one sense Suga and Fumiko could not be 
more dead to us - their deaths have defined them because scholars 
commonly associate them with political martyrdom. Their collision 
with power, therefore, is not in itself enough to account for the 
extent to which they are now known and respected in some circles in 
Japan as revolutionary heroes. And, of course, scholars have also con- 
tributed to the revolutionary immortality that is typically accorded 
someone who died at or in the hands of the state. 6 

TREACHERY RECONSIDERED 

Whilst I shall discuss in detail in Chapter 2 the aims of this work, and 
its structural logic and methodology, I would make one further point 
both to effect a temporary closure to t hese preliminary reflections on 
‘eulogies’ and open the way to later theoretical discussion. This is 
that the subjects’ deaths have had a marked influence upon both the 
fact of their restoration to history and the ways in which they have 
been restored. Their deaths have been central to biographical recon- 
structions of their lives (and ascriptions of meaning to their lives), 
though this has not been acknowledged by those doing the restora- 
tions. When in prison each woman did present herself as either a 
self-sacrificing political ‘martyr’ only too happy to die for the Cause 
(Suga), or a self-assertive ‘nihilistic’ rebel who not only defied death 
but demanded the death penalty (Fumiko), but what we cannot 
forget is that this was resistance directed at an audience that included 
police, prosecutors, judges and other political opponents. Hence, my 
core question in Part II concerns not only the meanings that Suga 
and Fumiko themselves ascribed to their own deaths, but more the 
degree to which their participation in a public construction of their 
coming deaths was a political project. 

What follows from this central focus is firstly the fact that, strictly 
speaking, while this book is about two women, it is not a work of 
gender analysis, even if social constructions of gender will often 
claim my attention. Furthermore, the book is about two individuals 



6 Preliminaries 


(women) whose polit cal commitments were deemed by many contem- 
poraries to be particularly ‘treacherous’, for a range of reasons that 
certainly included but also extended beyond their treasonous acts or 
ideas. Thus, it is not specifically about treason cases, even if I will 
be ‘reading’ texts, many of which (particularly in the case of Kaneko 
Fumiko) were produced within the context of trials for high treason. 
Nor, for that matter, is the focus of the work Japan’s prewar and war- 
time emperor-system, though this too has an undeniable contextual 
importance. Broadly speaking, moreover, it might be about the lives 
and deaths of two inc ividuals, yet it is not a developmental (narrative) 
work about the lives and ideas, the political careers of two individuals. 
It is not political biography. My structural inversion in Parts II and III 
of (engagements with) death followed by life (narratives) is the con- 
scious opposite of linear, often teleological, life-narratives. Of more 
interest to me are the subject-positions constructed and claimed by 
Kanno Suga and Kaneko Fumiko in relation to the meanings they 
attributed to their own deaths and lives - and, further, how their 
self-presentations were weapons in an ideological war of words 
about social and political realities. More will be said subsequently 
about my theoretica inspirations and the ‘structural’ logic of the 
work. Firstly, however, some background detail about the two treason 
cases is called for in order to set the ‘scene’ for Part II. 

THE HIGH TREASON INCIDENTS 

The well-known Meiji High Treason Incident of 1910-1911 repre- 
sented the culmination of a government policy of suppressing the 
young socialist movement. This policy was particularly severe during 
Katsura Taro’s second term as prime minister from July 1908 to 
August 1911. Therefore, of the well-known socialists who escaped 
the police drag-net in mid-1910, quite a few were already in prison 
and thus could not b; accused of conspiracy. Ultimately, twelve out 
of twenty-six defendants were executed after being found guilty of 
contravening Article 93 of the Criminal Code, which read: 

Every person who has committed, or has attempted to commit, a 
dangerous (or injurious) act against [the person of] the Emperor, 
the Emperor’s Grandmother, the Empress Dowager, the Empress, 
the Emperor’s son, the Emperor’s Grandson or the Heir to the 
throne shall be condemned to death. 7 

Twelve more of the accused first received the death sentence, but then 
had it commuted to life imprisonment through an imperial pardon. 



T reason and treachery, documents and discourse 7 

while the remaining two received lesser sentences. As F. G. Notehelfer 
points out, unfortunately for the defendants, the word translated here 
as ‘attempted’ ( kuwaen ) was ambiguous: it could be, and was, taken by 
the prosecution and judges to mean ‘intended’; and this, in turn, meant 
that the trial would ‘focus not on concrete acts, but on the question of 
“intent” . . . ideas, not facts.’ 8 

Suga, the one woman amongst the twenty-six, had been involved in 
an anti-imperial plot unlike most of the defendants. On the grounds of 
intent, there is no doubt that she was guilty as charged. During the 
trial Suga not only spoke of receiving a letter from Miyashita Daikichi 
in January 1909 about his research into making bombs, but also about 
Uchiyama Gudo’s visiting at about that time, saying he had managed 
to get hold of explosives from some miners. 9 According to Suga, 
Miyashita was one of the five defendants really involved in plans for 
an imperial assassination attempt; the others being Niimura Tadao, 
Furukawa Rikisaku and Kotoku Shusui. 10 Though she included 
Kotoku in the number, she insisted that he had been sympathetic to 
the idea only at first. 11 Suga was actually referred to by defence law- 
yers then as the ‘ringleader’ of this ‘conspiracy’, even if prosecutors 
and judges had assumed the leader to be the well-known theorist of 
‘direct action’, Kotoku. 

The defence lawyer, Hiraide Shu, believed that Suga and three 
others who had been involved in the plot should be sentenced to 
death, while Kotoku and one other defendant should receive life 
imprisonment. There were five more defendants he thought deserving 
of five years’ imprisonment, which leaves fifteen he apparently believed 
to be innocent. 12 It is easy to see why authors continue to refer to 
the case as a ‘frame-up’, or even suggest that Suga was one of those 
‘martyred’: she had not, after all, actually done much at all. Still, the 
material evidence of ‘anarchist chemistry’, the trial testimonies of 
the co-conspirators, and also their personal testimonies (Suga’s letters 
and prison diary, for example) make it clear that there was a con- 
spiracy of sorts involving no more than a handful of people. 

The less known and researched case of Kaneko Fumiko and Pak 
Yeol (J. Boku Retsu, legal Korean name Pak Choon Sik) is compli- 
cated by the issue of the atmosphere in which they were taken into 
‘protective custody’ - each within a few days of the Great Kanto 
Earthquake of 1 September 1923. 13 Over a dozen members of their 
mainly Korean group of anarchists and nihilists, which they therefore 
ironically called the Futeisha (Malcontents’ Society), were soon 
arrested as well. In the atmosphere of panic after the earthquake in 
which much of Tokyo and Yokohama was levelled, the infamous 



8 Preliminaries 


massacre of Koreans and other potential ‘subversives’ was already 
under way: several thousands were ultimately murdered by mobs of 
Japanese civilians, vigilantes, and civil or military police. 14 Unlike 
the Futeisha, many of the ‘potential troublemakers’ taken into protec- 
tive custody did not survive it. 

Fumiko and Pak Y eol were charged with vagrancy at first and 
detained for twenty-one days. 15 In the atmosphere of paranoid suspi- 
cion of ‘futei senjiri (malcontent Koreans), the authorities were taking 
no chances. Richard Mitchell observes that the ‘vagrancy’ charge was 
trumped up since police actually created Pak and Kaneko as vagrants 
to hold them while finding something else to charge them with. Police, 
it seems, urged their landlord to find new tenants and sell off their 
possessions because they wouldn’t be back! 16 Thus, on 20 October 
1923, Kaneko, Pak, and the rest of the Futeisha 17 were charged with 
an infringement of the Public Peace Police Law ( Chian Keisatsu Ho), 
to which a violation of the Explosives Control Law was added the 
following February. At this time all other members of the Futeisha 
but one were released. The one exception was Kim Choon Han who 
was charged with the explosives violation but not high treason. Kim 
Choon Han’s lover, Niiyama Hatsuyo, first incriminated them, refer- 
ring to Pak’s attempts to procure bombs from Shanghai or Korea to 
use on the imperial family. Fumiko soon confessed to this in January 
1924 (before Pak did). 

Pak and Fumiko were specifically accused of trying to procure 
bombs from a Korean independence group based in Shanghai 
(K. Uiyoldan, J. Gire, 'Sudan: ‘Righteous Fighters Band’). This was 
through a comrade in Korea, apparently for the purpose of an attempt 
on the life of the emperor and crown prince. But in neither the Pak 
Yeol-Kaneko Fumiko treason case of 1925-1926 nor the Meiji High 
Treason Incident fifteen years earlier was material evidence (of acts 
or intent) deemed fundamental by investigators, prosecutors or 
judges. Certainly, Fumiko and Pak were sentenced mainly on the 
basis of their own confessions. 18 Fumiko had not been directly 
involved in the plans, it seems, so in effect she helped officials to 
‘frame’ her. And therefore, finally on 17 July 1925 Fumiko and Pak 
were indicted for high treason (Article 73 of the Criminal Code) and 
the Supreme Court pretrial for this case began. According to the 
prewar Criminal Code, Article 295, the function of the preliminary 
hearing was to conduct an investigation to see whether there was 
enough evidence to warrant bringing the case to a public hearing. 19 
One wonders, therefore, why the Meiji trial was closed, given that 
there was more material evidence than in the second case. Neverthe- 



Treason and treachery, documents and discourse 9 

less, Fumiko’s and Pak’s public trial in the Supreme Court began on 
26 February 1926 - at least it was public until the defendants’ con- 
temptuous attitude to the proceedings caused an uproar (largely of 
applause) which prompted the judge to close the court. 

The two were sentenced to death on 25 March, but in ten days their 
death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment through a pardon 
issued by the emperor on the advice of the government. (The same had 
happened in the Meiji Treason Inciden t.) In part, the Cabinet headed 
by Wakatsuki Reijiro, prime minister from January 1926 to April 
1927, had probably felt it inadvisable, in this case, to hang the defen- 
dants. On 27 December 1923, four months after Fumiko and Pak were 
arrested, there had been an actual attempt on the life of the then crown 
prince (Hirohito). This was the ‘Toramomon [Sniper] Incident’ invol- 
ving a Japanese communist sympathizer, Nanba Daisuke, who was 
sentenced to death within one year, and hanged without delay. Also, 
only a few days after the Toranomon Incident there was an attempt 
on the life of the Taisho (1912-1926) emperor by a Korean named 
Kim Ji Sup. He was actually a member of the Uiyoldan who had 
brought bombs with him from Shanghai. 20 Yet in this ‘Nijubashi Inci- 
dent’ at the imperial palace, Kim was sentenced only to life imprison- 
ment. Perhaps in cases involving Koreans, whose homeland was under 
the ‘paternal protection’ of Japan, the Japanese authorities liked to 
make a show of benevolence, especially after widespread foreign cen- 
sure over the post-earthquake massac re. 

Morinaga Eisaburo remarks that Justice Ministry officials might 
have intended all along that Pak and Fumiko should receive life 
imprisonment. 21 The reason he gives for the commutation is the fact 
that their crime was an imperial assassination plan and not an 
actual attempt. This, however, had not stopped the Meiji judiciary 
from hanging twelve for a plot, and it does not entirely explain why 
the defendant in the Nijubashi case only got life imprisonment. 
Hence, because of domestic and foreign censure of the Japanese gov- 
ernment over the earlier massacre of Koreans, many commentators on 
the treason incident have expressed the view that, clearly, two scape- 
goats had been found. Pak and Fumiko were meant to be an illustra- 
tion to the world that officials and police had been justified in their 
concerns over Korean subversives in Kanto early in September 1923. 22 

DOCUMENTS AND DISCOURSE 

The texts that enable interpretation of Kanno Suga’s and Kaneko 
Fumiko’s constructions of death and life vary, both in their nature 



10 Preliminaries 


and in the difficulties they pose for the researcher. Contained in Kanno 
Sugako Zenshu 23 (her collected works) are journalistic writings and 
some poems from the period 1902 to 1909; personal letters, mostly 
from her last period of imprisonment from mid- 1910; and the surviv- 
ing portion of her pris on diary entitled ‘Shide no Michikusa’ (‘A Pause 
on the Way to Death’). 24 Suga’s journalistic texts will be utilized 
mainly in Part III of this book: ‘Life-narratives’. The Zenshu also 
contains statements to the prosecution and testimonies from the pre- 
liminary proceedings. The actual Supreme Court records are not 
extant, and the pretrial documents only came to light at the end of 
the Second World War. The editor of the Zenshu, Shimizu Unosuke, 
notes that the diary was literally picked out from amongst the ashes 
of documents burnt by the Justice Ministry when the war ended. How- 
ever, in Meiji, defence lawyer Hiraide Shu (and friends like the poet, 
Ishikawa Takuboku) had copied by hand some documents from the 
Supreme Court proce edings. 25 Finally, there are various collections 
of pretrial documents from the case that include the testimonies of 
all the defendants. 26 

From the Taisho legal case (1923-1926) an impressive number of 
records survive, copies of which have been produced by an anarchist 
publisher. These are the Saiban Kiroku (trial records) cited above, a 
magnificent volume of nearly 900 pages largely of testimonies of mem- 
bers of the Futeisha. It also contains records of witness interrogations 
pertaining to Fumiko’s background from family and acquaintances. 
Copies of the magazines published by Pak, Fumiko and comrades 
(1922-1923) are also included in it. The same publisher, Kokushoku 
Sensensha, has produced a slim volume of Fumiko’s prison poetry 
entitled Akai Tsutsuji no Hana (Red Azaleas), which also contains 
a few articles about her by contemporaries who knew her, as well 
as an interview with her mother conducted a few years after her 
death. 27 

Fumiko gave over 200 poems to a comrade, Kurihara Kazuo. He 
and other comrades managed to decipher some of those censored, 
and published a few in May 1926 while Fumiko was still alive. The 
few that were dated were written in the latter half of 1925. Apart 
from this, her prison memoirs, probably written before mid- 1925 
and first published not long after her death by comrades, have been 
reprinted in the postwar period more than once. 28 They are also 
now available in both partial and full English translation. 29 Fumiko 
did not give her manuscript any title, but in the postscript she 
wrote: 'What made me like this? [my emphasis]. . . . Readers with com- 
passion should understand . . . from my memoir.’ 30 The original 



Treason and treachery, documents and discourse 1 1 

manuscript was ultimately given to Futeisha member Kurihara Kazuo 
by Preliminary Court Judge Tatematsu Kaisei and first published in 
1931. Finally, there is also available the above-cited biography of 
Pak Yeol written by their lawyer, Fuse Tatsuji. It includes a lengthy 
section about Fumiko’s ideas, and also some extracts from her 
prison testimonies. 

As for the difficulties confronting the researcher who seeks to use 
trial records, the most important is the fact that, for a few reasons, 
confessions are of dubious reliability. That a defendant might admit 
to something does not necessarily make it true, even if, in the Japanese 
legal system, confession was (and is) regarded as the ‘king of evidence’ 
(shoko no o). 31 The first problem to confront, however, is the possibi- 
lity that records of confessions were invented or seriously distorted by 
interrogators. But if this were the case, surely surviving defendants, 
defence lawyers or others closely involved in the cases would have 
revealed it before now, given that the documents came to light at 
the end of the war. Pak Yeol survived the war in prison, as did his 
socialist lawyer, Fuse Tatsuji. At least four defendants in the earlier 
case also survived it and the defence-lawyer, Hiraide Shu, not only 
hand-copied trial records but wrote ‘fictional’ treatments of the trial 
that are consistent with preliminary trial records. Fuse Tatsuji, on 
the other hand, discussed Fumiko’s ideas in such a way as to make 
it clear that in his view the records of her testimonies are accurate. 
Furthermore, one only has to compare her early testimonies, where 
she told the judge her life-story, with her actual memoirs to see that 
the latter is a repetition of the former, albeit in more detail. It is 
highly improbable that a significant part of this could have been 
invented. 

It is also important to note that both Kaneko Fumiko and Pak Yeol 
consistently refused to talk to prosecutors, probably because of suspi- 
cions that they were more likely to distort their words. They refused to 
recognize the prosecutors’ authority to interrogate them about any ser- 
ious crime - with which, during the preliminaries, the two had not yet 
been charged. 32 Therefore, in their case the legal records available are 
of formal interrogations by judges, whether in court or in ‘closed’ pre- 
trial interrogation rooms. Of course, in prewar Japanese prisons var- 
ious types of mental or physical pressure were applied, and torture 
practised. While the use of torture might have been proscribed (and 
trials based on evidence introduced in 1879), it was commonly used 
because of a preference for confessions as evidence. 33 Fumiko and 
Pak might not have been tortured, but their case does reveal how the 
authorities were able to trick or browbeat even intransigent defendants 



1 2 Preliminaries 


(like Pak) into confessions by reading the transcripts of confessions by 
other defendants to them. 34 None the less, the testimonies of different 
defendants in both treason cases can be checked against each other for 
verification, and against other writings like memoirs, diaries, poetry, 
personal letters and voluntary statements in court. Also included in 
the Saiban Kiroku from the second case are copies of written state- 
ments (really political treatises) by both Pak and Fumiko. 

Despite the extensive documentation in the second treason case, 
however, it is still di:ficult to gauge with any certitude whether there 
was any serious plan afoot for imperial assassinations: perhaps Pak 
had already abandoned the idea by the time he was arrested. Perhaps 
both, not just Fumiko, exaggerated their practical guilt of conspiracy, 
and thus treason. Naturally, this would still make them guilty of being 
determined opponents of Japanese imperialism and the emperor- 
system: their refusal to play the game according to the rules of the 
Japanese state and legal system is in itself an indication of their 
‘treachery’. In fact, for the purposes of this study, Fumiko’s eventual 
admission that she had pretended to be more guilty than she was - 
which was almost certainly not an attempt to evade the death penalty 
- renders her style of resistance even more interesting. The irony is 
that, by using prison documents to interpret the meanings she ascribed 
to life and death, we might come nearer to the facts of her case than 
those who simply dismiss the trial as the invention of paranoid 
police, prosecutors and judges. Inventive they might have been, even 
paranoid, but Fumiko did little to disabuse them of their delusions. 

This leads me to comment on one further irony with which I will 
conclude: that perusal of Pak’s and Fumiko’s testimonies leaves one 
wondering why the authorities did not release such documents for 
publication. There was more public criticism of this second case so, 
if they had done, there would have been fewer public suspicions that 
it was only the government that had forged ‘conspiracies’. After it 
was attacked by the opposition party in the Diet over its handling 
of the case, the government was eventually forced to admit that its 
case against the defendants was not strong because of the absence of 
material evidence. 35 The Rikken Seiyukai had not raised the issue 
out of suspicions of a frame-up, but rather over a too ‘lenient’ treat- 
ment of the two defendants in prison and the courts. 36 Given the 
government’s admission of a lack of evidence, public knowledge of 
the defendants’ confessions would have lessened suspicions of a 
government conspiracy; and there might also have been less of a ten- 
dency to eulogize Fumiko as a revolutionary martyr or victim of the 
state after her death. To prefigure topics addressed in the next chapter, 



Treason and treachery documents and discourse 13 

I might observe that eulogies might then have involved a recognition 
of Fumiko’s many-faceted refusal to play the game according to the 
rules of first confessing and then throwing oneself on the mercy of 
self-styled benevolent ‘patriarchs’. 



2 The work (structure, logic, method) 


INTRODUCTION 

This chapter is about the ‘I’ of the text. It concerns the theory, struc- 
tural logic and methodology that has informed my writing of this 
book. Since the advent of the ‘new history’ in recent years and, 
more generally, self-reflexive scholarship, it now seems unnecessary 
to make any pretence at authorial invisibility. The influences upon 
both this self-reflexivity and what I have termed my ‘structural’ logic 
have been various: firstly, the ‘Melbourne School’ of ethnographic his- 
tory , 1 whose synchronic style and critique of (‘diachronic’) linear nar- 
rative history was surdy partly informed by structuralist critiques, for 
example Claude Levi- Strauss’ classic essay, ‘History and Dialectic’ in 
The Savage Mind. That essay brings to mind Hayden White’s arguably 
equally ‘classic’ commentary on it in Tropics of Discourse . 2 I have also 
found inspirational various structuralist and poststructuralist, feminist 
and postfeminist works too numerous to cite at this point. 

As to the specifics of this ‘structuralist’ logic, I have already called 
attention to the fact that this is not a work of narrative or biography, 
but is inverted to begin with the subjects’ deaths or, rather, their poli- 
tical representations of death. I begin in Part II by foregrounding 
death, the teleological ‘end-point’ of a life often submerged or 
hidden in/from the beginning of the text in conventional life-writing 
(biography and autobiography); and try to pay strict attention 
throughout, to the im-mediate or unmediated contexts in which 
Kanno Suga and Kaneko Fumiko spoke of their selves in relation 
to death and life, and to the audiences to whom they spoke. Further, 
since my object is not to determine in empiricist fashion ‘the Truth’ of 
the life-construct of any particular speaker, in Part III I compare and 
contrast what Suga ard Fumiko said about their lives with what con- 
temporaries - comrades, families, intimates - had to say about them. 



The work (structure, logic, method ) 15 


What my remarks so far should suggest is that structuralist and post- 
structuralist theory has partly informed my approach, not only to 
representation and power, but also to life-writing. Regarding the 
latter, it has led me to doubt that Suga and Fumiko set out to con- 
struct themselves as the ‘unique, self-creating I’ of liberal-humanist 
autobiography. 3 As I have argued elsewhere, Suga or even the very 
egoistic Fumiko was very much the creature of her world; thus each 
had a collective mission while simultaneously being engaged in carving 
out for herself a Subject-position that created her in the role of the 
autonomous individual. 4 

My hypothesis and approach concerning self-presentation and 
empowerment, moreover, have hinged partly upon a critique, 
common enough these days, of the tendency in early ‘second-wave’ 
metropolitan feminism to represent female historical actors solely as 
victims. In our justifiable concern with women’s oppression there 
was long a tendency to lose sight of women’s agency: the ways in 
which women were/are or can be both objects of oppression and agen- 
tic individuals. 5 Perhaps this blindness to agency has been the case 
particularly with works of history about Japanese women. It seems 
that the ‘Madame Butterfly’ construct of Japanese femininity is long 
in the deconstructing, to wit: ‘The “treacherous” Japanese subjects 
of your research were not just anarchists, but female ones?’ [sic] 
Hence, this book is about the subjectivity claimed by two prewar 
Japanese women who might have achieved notoriety because of their 
treachery, but were none the less no less agentic than many other 
Japanese women and men who earlier this century resisted, in a multi- 
tude of ways, imperialism and/or the emperor-system. 

Since Foucault’s rethinking of power relations has been found 
useful by many a feminist, 6 I will henceforth continue with my reflec- 
tions on power, agency and ‘eulogies’ to ‘martyrs’, ultimately with 
further reference to his observations, about his ‘in-famous men’. 
There is always a danger that martyrology might degenerate into 
martyrolatry. But this at least suggests not pity for a victim so much 
as esteem for a fighter. It might be natural to eulogize fighters such 
as Suga or Fumiko - lament the conditions of their passing due to 
power arbitrarily abused - but one needs, none the less, to be careful 
to recognize the part they played in bringing about their own ‘destiny’. 
Martyrdom implies varying degrees of voluntary action on the part of 
the ‘martyr’. While individuals might be put to a death they did not 
actively seek, if it was for persisting in a faith or political practice, 
then that in itself implies an element of choice or free will. 7 On the 
other hand, a concern with agency might lead one to represent Suga 



16 Preliminaries 


and Fumiko as having been more in control of their fates than their 
circumstances would suggest. Women have too often been represented 
as the passive victims of patriarchy, capitalism, society, men or, in 
Japan, the family- and emperor-systems, but one still needs to be 
wary of overreacting to this and making it appear as if they were/are 
not victims at all. Nor should one forget that some women were/are 
happy to help create and further systems based upon an oppression 
of women. 

In works about revolutionaries, active opponents of the state often, 
upon ‘defeat’, suddenly become its passive and innocent victims - 
arrested unjustly, ‘fi anted’, and so on. 8 To remind oneself that the 
losers had been engaged in a fight, which perhaps continued even 
after their arrests, c.oes not necessitate making a judgement about 
whether or not the combatants were equally matched and the fight 
fair or by the rules. Whether Fumiko was ‘framed’ or not, one must 
acknowledge the creative part she played in determining her own 
fate, both before being arrested and during the trial. By defiantly 
admitting or even inventing their guilt or by using the courtroom as 
a political forum, surely Suga and Fumiko were using what power 
they had at their disposal. Merely the telling or writing of their life- 
stories during their imprisonments must have been meant to empower 
them because they ascribed meaning to their own lives and deaths, and 
presented their vers ons of social reality, in an explicitly counter- 
hegemonic ideological fashion. 

Concerning my readings of what they meant, moreover, by arguing 
that meaning is social or cultural, not locked up inside the heads of 
historical actors, June Philipp has rejected claims that ethnographic 
historians concerned with meaning are, in effect, reviving traditional 
positivist history. 9 Ocher scholars working in the area of the ‘new his- 
tory’ in Japan Studies, like H. D. Harootunian, have also questioned 
the positivist assumption that human motivation or intention is know- 
able. He argues for a need to focus on discourse, thus seeking to avoid 
the problem of intentionality. 10 Likewise, the author of a work 
specifically on postmodernism, Hilary Lawson, speaks of a ‘gradual 
abandonment’ since Nietzsche of a focus in traditional philosophy 
on the unique ‘experience, morality, choice and will’, hence motives, 
of the individual (humanist) subject. 11 Indeed, a deconstructive project 
such as this, which is focused on discursive representations of the 
meaning of death and life, is premised upon a perceived need to 
circumvent the problem of ‘getting into heads’. As far as is possible, 
I avoid ascribing conscious (‘private’) intention to the subjects, 
though even a project concerned with constructs, with effects rather 



The work ( structure , logic, method) 17 


than motives, cannot entirely avoid the problem of intentionality - 
that is, if ‘any meaning is to some extent intentional’, as Paul de 
Man once observed. He went on to explain that this is not to say 
that the subject necessarily controls altogether, its own discourse or 
mode of meaning: the way in which ‘I’ mean may not be intentional 
because I am forced to depend upon linguistic devices not made by 
me. 12 Meaning is not simply a matter of individual psychology because 
it is not only linguistically, but also socially produced and shared. If 
one seeks to understand what Suga and Fumiko meant when speaking 
to various audiences, one needs to try to put oneself both into their 
‘shoes’ rather than their ‘heads’, and also listen with an ear attuned 
to temporal and cultural differences. 

The subjects’ constructions of death and life were not produced in 
an historical or social vacuum. Suga and Fumiko each participated 
in an ongoing political discourse about death and life. The ways in 
which they constructed (the social realities of) life and death must 
therefore be viewed through a culture shared with others: ‘Getting 
inside actions ... is a means of reconstructing the experience and 
meanings expressed by people in the past who were conversing, in 
public, amongst themselves.’ 13 If, for Philipp, the meanings of actions 
are not private, but public or social, interpreting them does not require 
a foray into the realms of psychohistory or psychobiography. Nor 
does it justify letting the texts speak for themselves and accepting sur- 
face meanings that appear to be self-evident - despite distances of time 
and culture, and also a ‘confusion of tongues’. 14 Historical actors 
expected ‘that their actions could be and would be read and under- 
stood’, Philipp explains, warning that the ‘process of expression, 
expectation, communication, and understanding, was historically situ- 
ated; it was situated in a particular context of shared or common 
experience and familiar forms of discourse.’ For historians to be 
able ‘to read past action’, or try to grasp the sense they had in that 
time and place, they must try to reconstruct its context. 15 

MORE DEFINITIONS: POWER, IDEOLOGY, POLITICAL 
CULTURE 

The issue of eulogies to ‘martyrs’ demands a reconsideration of the 
nature of power. Foucault, the historian for whom power is omni- 
present, seems at first sight in ‘The Life of Infamous Men’ to concep- 
tualize it as omnipotent. In this essay, state power, the sort of power 
usually seen to be hovering threateningly above, first appears to be a 
reified, personified sort of power because it looked down upon and 



1 8 Preliminaries 


‘lay in wait for’ people; it was something ‘which spied on them, which 
pursued them, which turned its attention’ to them and, finally, 
‘marked them with a blow of its claws’. 16 This seems to have been a 
(state) power that could be ‘collided with’; that was separate and 
apart. Thus far, the language Foucault uses (and I have also used) 
seems to suggest a binary opposition, whereby there are two poles; 
with no grey area, for one either has power or has not, one either is 
‘power’ or is not. 

However, Foucault proceeds in this essay to point out that one 
could see petitions to a king for a judgement on the actions of a 
third party as a shc.ring in so-called ‘absolutist’ power: ‘Everyone 
could make use of the enormity of absolute power for themselves . . . 
and against others’; everyone had the potential to become ‘a terrible 
and lawless monarch for another’ by using petitions, the ‘mechanisms 
of sovereignty’. 17 What he seeks to do here, as elsewhere, is undermine 
dichotomous conceptions of power. Here we see how an individual, 
who might appear to be powerless in the face of a source of obvious, 
apparently overwhelming power, can ‘appropriate this power, at least 
for a moment, channel it, tap it and inflect it in the direction one 
wants . . . make use of it . . . “seduce” it’. 18 This is another way of 
saying with Marx that people are seldom, if ever, mere creatures 
who passively allow forces to act upon them. They too act, and con- 
tinually participate in creating their own circumstances. People are 
both creatures and creators of their worlds. 

It cannot be denied that Kanno Suga and Kaneko Fumiko were the 
‘victims’ of power - its objects - but it must be allowed that they were 
also its subjects. However great the imbalance of power, we do not 
have to see them as either power ful or power/ess. While many authors 
recognize the defiant stand taken by both women, in my view they 
have not gone beyond surface appearances to consider the many 
ways in which Suga and Fumiko interacted with state power. Hane 
Mikiso suggests that there was a part of Fumiko that did not want 
to escape the net she was caught up in, but he does it in such a way 
as to imply a dismissal of her as psychologically unbalanced: 
‘Kaneko seems to have been driven by a death wish .’ He says of 
both Suga and Fumiko that they ‘courted death’ - were ‘driven to 
the edge in their fanatical determination to stand up to the authorities 
[my emphases]’. 19 Despite the fact that looking at power from another 
angle has the potential to be equally one-sided, we may be able to 
come closer to grasping some of the complexities of power relations 
by considering how to some extent these ‘victims’ chose and even 
directed their own destinies - or at least wanted to be seen as being 



The work (structure, logic, method) 19 


in control of their own fates. Ido not seek to prove that it was Suga 
and Fumiko who were power ful, that they really ‘won’ in the end, 
though this might have been what they were trying to prove. 

These two women have often been treated almost as if they were 
drawn against their will into the final round of a fight, which of 
course they could not ‘win’. This has been the case particularly with 
Fumiko. But they were engaged in tins fight both before and after 
their respective arrests. When in prison, moreover, they said what 
police, prosecutors and judges believed could not be said about the 
‘living god-father of the nation’, the emperor. As each of the trials pro- 
gressed, the subjects’ treacherous statements would have been enough 
to convince the authorities of the need to secure a conviction for the 
supreme ‘thought crime’ of a lack of reverence for the emperor and 
respect for his agents. Whatever the precise facts of these ‘conspira- 
cies’, Suga and Fumiko had already made their political choices 
regarding radical ideas and alliances. Th ese choices were, by definition, 
opposed to the emperor-system; and they were informed choices. In a 
political climate that was undeniably repressive, neither woman could 
have discounted the possibility that her political practice might in one 
way or another decide her ‘destiny’. John Crump has pointed out that 
left-wing treatments of the ‘iniquity’ of the Meiji High Treason Inci- 
dent have been somewhat naive: it is as if the capitalist state’s mono- 
poly of the means of violence to enforce ‘law and order’ (in the 
interests of ‘all’) could be expected to be ‘fair’. 20 Fumiko, certainly, 
had no such expectation. Her nihilist subject-position or, for that 
matter, Suga’s anarchist one, was in itself a declaration of war. 

Also concerning ‘power’, I should note that whilst I might speak of 
their strategies of self-empowerment, of course neither Suga nor 
Fumiko used this or similar terminology. For them, Power (or 
‘authority’) was something separate and apart; something that they 
had no relation to, and wanted no share in. 21 They tended to conceive 
of power as state power; their perception was of a world divided into 
those with power and those without it, even if they themselves were 
actually engaged in a (power) struggle with it. They treated it as 
their own exclusive opposite. Thus, for Suga its future negation 
would be ‘anarchism’; while for Fumiko (only initially during her 
imprisonment) ‘nihilism’ represented the negation, in her words, the 
‘annihilation’ of power, humanity and Life. 

If Suga’s and Fumiko’s perceptions of power were more dualistic 
than dialectical, this also raises the issue of their notion of ‘ideology’. 
Amongst Marxist and other theorists there have long been critics 
of conspiracy theories of ideology as the exclusive possession of the 



20 Preliminaries 


ruling class and necessarily a deception or deliberate ‘mask’ for 
reality. 22 Suga and Fumiko, however, would have seen no reason to 
dispense with such theories. For them the production of an ‘ideology’ 
was the preserve of ‘Power’. Therefore, while I myself might be 
inclined to speak of ideological production generally, on occasion 
referring to ‘dominant’ or ‘hegemonic’ as well as other ideologies, 
when discussing what Suga and Fumiko seemed to be intent on 
doing I prefer to pu. it in terms of their countering, contesting, or 
even unmasking ‘ideological deceptions’. 

A final point about power and ideology relates to the ‘isms’ ( shugi ) 
with which each woman set out, often quite intentionally, to fight or 
negate ‘Power’. One needs to consider at some length what ‘anarchism’ 
meant to Suga and ‘nihilism’ to Fumiko. Rather than defining such 
terms in advance, I prefer to allow their meanings for the subjects to 
unfold throughout the text. That being said, however, the one thing 
that does demand some explanation is ‘nihilism’ which, in a Japanese 
context, has at least three common meanings: 1) a political doctrine 
associated with nineteenth-century Russian populist terrorism; 2) 
philosophical moral nihilism associated particularly with Nietzsche 
and others like Max Stirner; 3) negative dialectics in Mahayana 
Buddhism (for example, Zen). The second of these is the most 
pertinent to Fumiko’s understanding of it, though I suspect that her 
nihilism was an amalgam of all three. 

Attempting to define such ‘isms’ in advance with confident precision 
would not only imp y the use of a yardstick made elsewhere, in 
Europe, for example; it would also suggest a static treatment of doc- 
trines that the subjects continued to utilize and develop in a discourse 
about life, death and social realities. One certainly could not take even 
the ideas they adhered to when imprisoned to be finished, immobile 
products, for this would be to ignore the impact of their trials and 
incarcerations. According too much prominence to such ‘recognizable’ 
doctrines could also be taken to mean that only the explicitly political 
ideas of the subjects are pertinent. One needs to be wary of narrow 
definitions of politics that, in line with public-private distinctions, 
would exclude from, say, a ‘political’ biography aspects of an indi- 
vidual’s experience deemed unimportant because ‘personal’. As my 
interest is in the subjects’ social constructions of death and life, the 
focus here needs to be broad enough to encompass a political discourse 
that includes both mundane and ontological, even ‘metaphysical’ 
considerations. 

Hence I look at the death- and life-constructs of Suga and Fumiko 
within the context of a. ‘political culture’ that I define broadly, both in 



The work (structure, logic, method) 21 


this sense and in the sense that this culture was internally differentiated 
and dynamic. It was not singular but subject to complex internal vari- 
ation, contestation and change. Further, it was not ‘purely’ Japanese 
but subject to external influences. The approach to Meiji and Taisho 
‘political culture’ which is taken here, therefore, firstly involves a 
recognition that that culture had diverse strands. Secondly, it repre- 
sents a dialectical attempt to take a ‘middle way’ between two concep- 
tual tendencies: one that too narrowly focuses on cultural difference 
(e.g., Japanese ‘uniqueness’), and another that, in too totalizing (per- 
haps ‘West’-centric) a style, opts for generalities or universality in 
human behaviour and organization. 23 I therefore look closely at the 
question of the subjects’ Japanese cultural identity in Chapters 5 
and 6, at the extent to which it had a bearing on their political commit- 
ments and strategies. 


PATERNALISM AND PATRICIDE 

Concerning the ‘patriarchal fictions’ referred to in the book’s sub-title, 
I would first observe that in a political system founded on a complex 
metaphor of paternalism that extended all the way up to the monarch 
as another supreme ‘god, the father’, it is to be expected that some 
would come to entertain thoughts of the ultimate form of ‘patricide’. 
Suga certainly did, while Fumiko at least lauded the idea in court. 
Paternalism was a pervasive metaphor for social relations of all 
descriptions from Tokugawa (1603-1867) through Meiji and Taisho 
and beyond. This brings to mind the bitter criticism of the Tokugawa 
socio-political system by Ando Shoeki, a samurai doctor and scholar. 
In the mid-eighteenth century Ando had argued that in an ideal state 
of nature: 

there is no distinction between between high and low ... no 
exploitation of those below for luxury and greed. . . . Since there 
are no selfish teachings . . . there are no distinctions between the 
sages and the foolish. There are no samurai who criticize the 
misconduct of the common people and strike them on their 
heads. . . . Since there is no teaching about filial piety, no one 
flatters or hates his parents and no one commits parricide. Since 
there is no artificial teaching about benevolence, there are no fathers 
who drown themselves emotionally in the love of their children, nor 
parents who hate their children. . . . The world is a unity. There is no 
duality. 24 



22 Preliminaries 


Here Ando explicitly referred to the logical connection between the 
ideology of ‘benevolent’ paternalism and parricide, while also dismiss- 
ing the ways of the sages, buddhas and gods as mere ‘ideology ... an 
excuse to rob the people’. 25 Paternalism was an intrinsic part of 
late Tokugawa ideological orthodoxy, the core of which was neo- 
Confucianism with its emphasis on fixed and eternal binary distinc- 
tions between heaven and earth, rulers and ruled, fathers and sons, 
men and women. By the early 1900s, however, it took on an expanded 
political meaning. 

Even before the Meiji Imperial Restoration of 1868 there had begun 
a gradual mythological construction of the emperor as ‘divine father 
of the nation’. In Meiji this came to obscure demands for unquestion- 
ing political obedience and loyalty (‘filial’ piety) towards those who 
ruled in his name beneath a ‘veil’ of quasi-religious mystification. 26 
Carol Gluck comments on this remaking of the emperor as follows: 

[T]he late 1880s and 1890s saw the emperor become the manifesta- 
tion of the elements associated with national progress as the Meiji 
elite defined it, and the symbol of national unity, not of a political 
and legal, but of a patriotic and civic kind. Then . . . [he] was 
also turned toward social ends. As the patriarch of a family-state 
he became the symbolic representation of harmony and as the 
descendant of the sun goddess, the deified evidence of the ancestral 
ethnicity of the Japanese. 27 

According to this grand patriarchal familial myth, the Japanese people 
were all children of t mis ‘living god’ whose family claimed direct suc- 
cession from a deity said to be the highest in the pantheon. Ironically, 
this was the female sun god, Amaterasu O-mikami, off spring of the 
(‘imperial’ tribe’s > clan’s > family’s) founding gods of Japan. The 
people of Japan were therefore children who could expect to live in 
a divinely bestowed condition of ‘harmony’ so long as they paid 
heed to their ‘benevo ent’ fathers, both supreme and lesser. 

I shall leave it to Jon Halliday to explain further about this ‘familial’ 
nation-narrative: 

Though the ‘family-state’ ideology incorporated earlier elements, it 
cannot be identified with the forms of repression practiced at the 
start of the Meiji period. Only in the late Meiji period did the 
system take on its full distinctive form. . . . The Confucian-type 
familistic ethic provided the real foundation for the society, and 
increasingly, from the late Meiji period on, Japanese ideologists 
spoke of the nation as an ‘extended family’. The nation was not 



The work (structure, logic, method ) 23 

like a family, it really was a family. This national family, supported 
from below by the socio-ethical patterns of individual households, 
was then ‘sanctified from above by Shinto beliefs which imbued it 
with a quality of sacredness.’ The 1889 Constitution contributed 
to this by declaring the Emperor ‘sacred and inviolable.’ 28 

Speaking of the Ministry of Education’s final revision by 1910 of 
school textbooks, Halliday proceeds to discuss how these now incor- 
porated the hegemonic family-state ideology in language simple 
enough even for elementary school children. 

These new 1910 texts demand filial piety and obedience, and seek to 
transfer familial loyalties upwards to the Emperor by identifying 
Emperor-loyalty with filial piety. The favourite expression in 
these texts is chuko no taigi (‘the great loyalty-filial principle’) in 
which loyalty ( chu ) and filial piety (kd) are fused into a single con- 
cept. Emperor-loyalty is then fused with patriotism . . . into one 
expression: chukun aikoku (roughly, ‘patriotic Emperor-loyalty’). 
Finally, Shinto mythological tradition is mobilized to infuse 
Emperor-loyalty and patriotism with sacred absoluteness. More- 
over, the 1910 texts present Shinto mythology as believable histor- 
ical fact, thus further fusing history and myth - and, of course, by 
debasing ‘fact’, strengthening irrationality, mystification and 
repression. 29 

Such a mystification was well under way in Suga’s time, but far more 
refined, socially diffused and therefore familiar to people throughout 
society by the 1920s. Fumiko would have had such an education. 
Partly due to this, no doubt, she opposed the emperor-system in a 
more systematic way than Suga, to the extent of responding directly 
to the above-mentioned State Shinto-derived ‘irrationality’. 

How, then, should we view the crime that Suga and Fumiko were 
accused of: conspiracy to commit ‘regicide’, ‘deicide’, or ‘patricide’? 
When governmental and other ideologues create a deified father- 
figure for a ‘harmonious’ nation - and justify ‘natural’ social hierar- 
chies and political repression in his name - one can be sure that 
some will come to note the contradiction, and see assassination as a 
logical counter-ideological step and symbolic necessity. Carol Gluck 
has remarked on increased social perceptions, by the 1920s and 
1930s, of a glaring disparity between individuals’ lived experience 
and emperor-system/State Shinto ideology. 30 

The light in which Suga and Fumiko each saw the emperor sug- 
gested a critique of his paternal aspect in the first instance (though a 



24 Preliminaries 


rather ambivalent one); and his godly one in the second. Suga con- 
fessed to an intention to blow up the head of state, who was not 
directly but symbolically responsible for repression; while Fumiko 
claimed she had participated in a plan to demystify (with bombs) 
the god-emperor, symbol of social inequalities. Their professed inten- 
tions to kill him could be viewed as more in line with patricide in the 
first case, deicide in the second. This has a certain logic for other 
reasons: for, even though Suga was a ‘feminist’, who might be 
expected to be au;omatically suspicious of patriarchs, she was 
mostly concerned about political repression in the name of a ‘father’ 
she partly esteemed. Fumiko’s primary concern, on the other hand, 
was not only with a social but also racial/ethnic inequality that was 
partly derived from the notion of Japan as the ‘land of the gods’ 
(the imperial ancesto rs), and the Japanese race as the divine children 
of the gods. She had lived for several years in colonized Korea and 
had seen the brutal results of such a myth. 

Referring to Suga, Irokawa Daikichi observes that this first treason 
incident revealed the fact that ‘the emperor system was not a com- 
passionate all-enveloping embrace but a tyranny that would stop at 
nothing to eliminate heresy’; it was ‘a self-contradicting system that 
concealed within the shadows of its harmoniousness’ a cold brutal- 
ity. 31 Japan was/is usually styled as a uniquely consensual nation in 
which people knew their place in a social hierarchy guided by 
‘father-figures’ of various descriptions, at various levels of society. 
Amongst them, there were some whose specific duty it was to mete 
out punishment to wayward children, bring them to submission and 
shame - and in many cases, then forgive them. Fumiko’s case was 
just before the official policy of tenko (encouraging political offenders 
to recant) was introduced in 1931, but already by 1928 evaluation of 
suspects’ ‘state of repentance’ had become part of standard police 
evaluations. 32 

During their respective imprisonments, both Suga and Fumiko must 
have come into contact with any number of ‘fatherly’ officials, but 
each was favoured by the attentions of one in particular: Prosecutor 
Taketomi Wataru in Suga’s case, and Preliminary Court Judge Tate- 
matsu Kaisei in Fumiko’s. Tatematsu was a very significant figure in 
the second treason case. Though only a judge in the Tokyo District 
Court, at the end of 1 925 he was appointed to the Supreme Court pre- 
trial because the defendants were more likely to co-operate with him. 
There might have been various reasons for their willingness to ‘co- 
operate’. For example, after Fumiko’s death the press got hold of 
a photograph taken by Tatematsu of the couple in an intimate pose 



The work ! structure, logic, method) 25 

in the courtroom - Fumiko sitting on Pak’s lap, his left hand resting on 
her breast. When Tatematsu was accused by the press of having been 
too lenient toward the couple, it was said that he left them alone in the 
courtroom to indulge in their ‘scandalous behaviour’, allowed Fumiko 
(‘conjugal’?) visits to Pak’s cell, and so on. The accusations were partly 
true, probably because Tatematsu realized quite early that he would 
get no co-operation from them unless he humoured them. According 
to Pak Yeol, Tatematsu showed ‘respect’ for their political stand, 
yet there are signs that he played on their impulses to heroism in 
order to get them to incriminate themselves. 33 His presenting himself 
as a kindly father-figure concerned for the welfare of wayward chil- 
dren would not have been an unusual: tactic at the time, especially 
given the state’s efforts to foster the ideology of national familism in 
the interests of social harmony and political obedience. When dissi- 
dents were later encouraged to confess, recant and thereby be reinte- 
grated into society as part of the official policy of ideological 
conversion (tenko), a common ruse of interrogators was to harp on 
thought-crime offenders’ lack of filial piety - to immediate and/or 
supposedly ‘national’ families. 

Certainly by late Taisho, the paternalism metaphor was all- 
pervasive, but it was hardly ‘unique’ or unusual. Inga Clendinnen, 
writing about Spanish Franciscans and their Yucatan Indian 
‘wards’, says that paternalism: 

is a comfortably capacious metaphor. We would be mistaken if we 
saw its content as solely or necessarily benevolent. There are fathers 
and fathers. Some loving fathers punish most tenaciously; the pro- 
found ambivalence of the consciously loving father towards his 
child-victim is only now beginning to be explored. In the very vio- 
lence of the response of the Yucatan friars to that first discovery of 
the ‘treachery’ of their Indians we see something of the emotion- 
charged punitive rage of the betrayed parent. 34 

The Maya continued to engage in ‘heathen’ practices after baptism, 
and were therefore punished most severely by their stern but loving 
‘fathers’. ‘Traitors’ - amongst both the Maya in the sixteenth century 
and early twentieth-century Japanese rebels - suffered for acting upon 
a view of reality that did not accord with that of their ‘protectors’. 
Diego de Landa, the inquisitor, and Prosecutor Taketomi or Judge 
Tatematsu, it seems, had much in common. Rhys Isaac also refers 
to a ‘comprehensive metaphor of fatherhood’ or ‘ patriarchalism’: his 
Virginian variant extended from the slave-owner who was both 
father and judge up to the Father-Creator. 35 An interesting point of 



26 Preliminaries 


difference between Isaac’s Father-Creator and the Japanese emperor, 
however, was that the emperor was not represented as ‘alternately 
harsh and merciful’, only the latter, though others more stern acted 
in his name. 

Suga and Fumiko may have recognized from experience the ‘puni- 
tive rage of the betrayed parent’ when they encountered it in Japan’s 
prisons and courts. Apart from their own biological fathers who, 
according to their own accounts, fitted the image of stern fatherhood 
rather well, they remarked on others whose true character did not at 
all reflect the requisite balance of sternness and benevolence. But 
Suga’s and Fumiko’s counter-ideological representations of ‘fathers’ 
aside, what we need to keep in mind is that while some ‘paternal’ 
figures may well have been consciously practising a deception, it is pos- 
sible that others were not - entirely. There is good reason to suspect 
that Prosecutor Taketomi was, for he was said to have bragged later 
that he ‘buttered Suga up’, getting her to talk of personal matters so 
she would see him as sympathetic and therefore ‘talk’. 36 (She had at 
first refused to speak to him at all, because he was an old ‘enemy’ of 
hers.) But one could hardly fail to see the ambivalence in the relation- 
ship between Fumiko and Judge Tatematsu. His treatment of her sug- 
gests that some ‘fathers’ firmly believed in their paternal role of ‘moral 
guidance’. It was, after all, Judge Tatematsu who delivered to a com- 
rade of Fumiko’s her prison memoirs. It was he who had first asked 
her to write an account of her life explaining further how her treatment 
by family and society had led her to nihilism. What, indeed, would 
have remained of her today, if not for the ‘profound ambivalence’ 
of this punitive and loving father? 

In sum, it seems to me that this aspect of the emperor-system, its all- 
pervasive paternalism or ‘patriarchalism’, has been overlooked in 
works of prewar Japanese history. While any number of works of 
women’s or feminist history of late do, of course, note the strongly 
patriarchal aspects of Meiji and Taisho legal, institutional and familial 
history (both traditional and reinvented), 37 to my mind they do not 
engage adequately with paternalism. I can think of no work that 
attempts a thorough, sustained critique of the way in which paternal- 
ism was fostered anew' in Meiji and came to permeate, not just labour- 
management relations, for example, but society as a whole. Perhaps we 
need to direct our attention more to those individuals who contested it, 
particularly those most likely to be patronized - and not only in the 
family but also in ‘public’ life, for example, the legal system. Suga 
and Fumiko themselves might not have explicitly opposed any 
‘fathers’ other than their biological ones, but their critiques of the 



T he work ( structure, logic, method ) 27 

emperor-system and their justifiable suspicions concerning the father- 
figures with whom they came into contact when charged with treason, 
demand a closer look at the profoundly paternalistic-patriarchal 
aspects of the emperor-system. 

ENDS AS BEGINNINGS 

To begin with the critique of conventional life-writing implicit even in 
the structure of this book, I would first note that biographers and 
other commentators on the lives and ideas of Kanno Suga and 
Kaneko Fumiko seem to have spent too little time in self-reflexive his- 
toriographical reflection. They have not reflected upon issues like how 
their subjects’ texts might have been affected or even effected by the 
conditions under which they were produced; and by the audiences 
for whom they were produced. A related problem is a tendency to 
engage in reconstructions of the subjects’ life-stories in teleological 
fashion without reflecting upon how their ends (impending death) 
had already determined their ‘beginnings’. Certainly in the case of 
Kaneko Fumiko, who both told and wrote her story under threat of 
execution by the state, the production of such a life-story must have 
been greatly influenced by the immediate context of the narration. 

This brings to mind Herman Ooms’ critique of teleology: ‘The pro- 
ject of going back to a beginning is engaged in only because a pressing 
present has drawn singular attention to some item of the past,’ he 
remarked. 38 Here he was making a general point about how the histor- 
ical beginnings or origins of a phenomenon can be invented and 
mythologized. 39 However, we can also apply his remarks to an auto- 
biographical project, the real beginning of which might not have 
been, for example, the mistreatment and oppression that Fumiko 
suffered as a child, but rather her struggle against state and society 
as an adult. The ‘pressing present’ of the autobiographer in this case 
is a need to explain an end, her death or ‘destiny’, so the focus switches 
to childhood oppression as the ‘beginning’ of something that is not as 
clearly stated in the life-story as it might be. Childhood experience, in 
short, takes on a meaning that is not situated so much in its own pre- 
sent or context, but rather in the subject’s future: the writer’s present. 
We can see how such a confusion of ends and beginnings might lead to 
one aspect of a subject’s early life taking on an exaggerated impor- 
tance in what is presented as a complete and balanced linear life- 
story centred on one meaning (an autobiography’), but is really 
more an unstated explanation of an end. The story presented is one 
where ends have determined beginnings, and death, life. 



28 Preliminaries 


There are various lessons to be learned also from the constructions 
scholars have placed upon the lives, ideas and actions of Kanno Suga 
and Kaneko Fumiko Regarding teleology, one cannot pretend that 
one does not know that both died in a final clash with state power, 
but one can try to prevent such knowledge from determining, or 
having too great an influence upon, how one sees their earlier lives. 
While it might seem natural to ask what brought Suga to an execution 
at the hands of the state, or Fumiko (apparently) to death by her own 
hand, one needs to be careful that the way in which the question is 
framed does not commit one to an assumption of continuous causative 
development toward a predetermined end. The point at issue here is 
the scholar’s ascription of meaning to a life. For, particularly when a 
subject dies in extraordinary circumstances, the nature of her death 
often determines the ways in which her life-story is told. In cases 
where the death is highly unusual - self-inflicted, perhaps, or violent 
or heroic - the manner of death can loom large in biographers’ ascrip- 
tions of meaning to the lif e. 40 

In the existing works on Fumiko in both Japanese and English, 
authors have apparently seen it as unproblematic to reconstruct her 
life almost entirely fiom her own account written in prison in the 
mid- 1920s. 41 But wouldn’t it be natural for someone in that situation 
to look back over her ife from the vantage-point of a clash with power 
and focus on aspects of it that seemed most relevant to the social 
making of a traitor o r ‘nihilist’? Would we not expect such a person 
to prioritize certain things, however consciously, and impose certain 
silences on herself? Though in Suga’s case it is possible to determine 
whether there was a contrast between her early and late life-narratives 
- whether she represer ted her life/Life differently after almost a decade 
of political struggle - this is not possible with Fumiko because of 
the limited nature of the extant sources. Particularly in her case it 
would make no sense to begin this study with her account of her life, 
when its im-mediate context was a trial for treason and the threat of 
execution. 

In ascribing meaning to their lives when facing death, Suga and 
Fumiko were not unlike any person about to die who may ask, ‘Has 
my life had some significance? Has it had some ethical meaning that 
I can assert as I die?’ 42 But with these ‘traitors’ there must have 
been an additional reason for such a concern, whether entirely con- 
scious or more subliminal: the need for a counter-knowledge about 
their ideas, actions and identity; one which would signify to the 
world the ‘true’ meaning of their lives and deaths. When facing 
likely execution, they must have also suspected something of the 



The work (structure, logic, method) 29 


ways in which they would be seen in the future by those who believed 
them to have been ‘justly’ executed - perhaps even by those who repre- 
sented them as having been ‘martyred’ by the state. As a nihilist-egoist, 
Fumiko, I might observe at this point, was suspicious of the notion of 
martyrdom. 

Jean-Michel Raynaud questions the use of autobiographical works 
for ‘factual’ detail about a subject’s life when he asks: 

What is hidden in transforming an object into a document, that is 
a new semiotic object, and then a document into facts, and then 
isolated facts into a continuous and coherent story? What happens 
when various objects left by a person during his/her life are taken as 
able to stand for the entire life? Is a life reducible to a meaning? Is a 
life a text? Is a life a story ? 43 

One can hardly fail to think of Fumiko while reading this and might 
well ask in return: What happens when that person herself seems to 
want certain objects to stand for her life, seems to want to reduce 
her life to a certain meaning? Fumiko and also Suga certainly seem 
to have presented their stories as ‘the struggle of a subject . . . against 
an anti-subject’ in a manner pinpointed by Raynaud: 

A biography is always presented as the struggle of a subject, the 
main character, against an anti-subject, more difficult to define; 
for example, a rival, society, illness, and at least death. The subject 
wants to carry on an action which will give it [sic] a certain object of 
value, fame, success, and so on . . . actually, biography does not 
limit itself to the telling of a life. Biographies do not finish with 
the death of the hero. The last words at least always indicate the 
repercussions, the consequences of such a life, of which this 
actual biography is an illustration in itself. As if to a story telling 
the triumph of death over a [hujman was added a story telling 
the triumph of an individual over death . 44 

Isn’t this what Fumiko’s memoirs represent: her triumph over death, 
and over other anti-subjects like power and society? Suga, moreover, 
had an explicit concern with revolutionary immortality, so almost all 
of the elements are there. Raynaud has neatly summed up what 
Suga seemed to be doing with the objects (particularly prison diary 
and poetry) she left to posterity. She could be seen to be struggling 
toward the end of her life with all of the anti-subjects listed - a rival 
(or rivals, and their constructions of her life and its meaning), society, 
illness (TB), and certainly impending death - and her actions did 
appear to be premised partly on concerns with her own value, fame 



30 Preliminaries 


or success. In her last days she often seemed at pains to counter con- 
structions of her actions as meaningless, or pictures of herself as not 
only infamous but a ‘failure’, since nothing had come of her plans 
to rise up in revolution. Do we, then, simply re-tell their stories of 
life? Or should we rather read them in terms of their narrative-political 
strategies? 

Since the first part of this study is concerned with Suga’s and 
Fumiko’s counter-constructions of death, it partly entails looking at 
them as ‘historians of their own ends’. If the state could determine 
the moment and manner of death and then inflict it as well, would 
either of these ‘traitois’ want to permit it to monopolize the meaning 
of the death too? We do not need to portray them as consistently set- 
ting out quite deliberately to wrest the meaning of their deaths and 
lives from their enemies. Nevertheless, they must have wanted a say 
in something at once so personal and so public. 

And what of their ‘beginnings’? If Part III concentrates on their 
counter-constructions of ‘Life’ itself, and thus largely entails looking 
at Suga and Fumiko as ‘historians of their own beginnings’, it seems 
to suggest that they were both radical solipsists: ‘Life = my life’. 
Y et one’s own experience is usually the most convincing of evidence 
for one’s view of reality. Fumiko, both in court and in her prison 
memoirs, used her life- story as evidence of widespread social inequities 
in prewar Japan. And even when Suga was writing social criticism in 
newspapers between 1902 and 1909, her own personal experience 
(past and present) was probably never far from the surface. Looking 
at Suga and Fumiko as historians of their own beginnings in narratives 
about Life therefore involves using both autobiographical and other 
sources. 

The fact that in prison and earlier they used their experience of life 
as evidence for the correctness of their political views suggests that the 
subjects’ personal histories were counter-ideological weapons in a fight 
for self-legitimation and empowerment. This recalls Ooms’ remarks on 
how historians go about locating the beginnings of an historical phe- 
nomenon under scrutiny. They still have a ring of accuracy when 
applied to Suga’s and Fumiko’s own historiographical endeavours. 
Finding a beginning, he observes, 

entails more than bringing clarity to a diffuse past. There is no inno- 
cence about such an undertaking. The project of going back to a 
beginning is engaged in only because a pressing present has 
drawn singular atte ntion to some item of the past. . . . Phenomena 
for which a beginning is projected increase in reality, and are not 



The work (structure, logic, method) 31 


simply spoken of more easily because of their clearer identity. They 
may acquire an identity because they have been assigned a begin- 
ning. They are thus spoken of differently. Authorized more fully, 
such phenomena have a thicker layer of legitimacy. 

Thus it appears that beginnings are often not ‘real’ beginnings 
but real talk about beginnings. Such talk of beginnings often 
serves concrete interests and it is thus itself ideological. 45 

Here Ooms is referring to a rather different ‘phenomenon’, but these 
remarks are equally pertinent to Suga’s or Fumiko’s concern with 
her own beginnings. There was certainly a ‘pressing present’ - what 
Suga perceived to be the appalling condition of women in Meiji 
society, for example - that led Suga as early as 1902 to narrate par- 
ticular episodes of ‘her’ past. And in the process did she herself not 
‘increase in reality’, come to have a ‘clearer identity’ (as a social 
critic), and more ‘legitimacy’ in the eyes of her audience through reveal- 
ing a past that justified her criticisms of the present? We can at least see 
how the phenomenon of women’s subjugation might increase in reality 
for many through her stories about ‘her’ own personal trials. Whether 
or not the beginnings she spoke of were always ‘real’ - they were not 
necessarily so, for example, in her ‘semi-autobiographical’ works - 
her talk of them was certainly (counter-) ideological. From 1902 to 
1911 she was engaged in a struggle against dominant ideology and 
power structures, part of which struggle was to invoke the miseries of 
‘her’ past in opposition to the ideological deception of the existence 
of social harmony and benevolent paternalism. 

In portraying life itself, Fumiko and Suga often used their lived 
experience as proof of their moral and/or political correctness - as a 
weapon in their respective struggles with power. Hence, the meaning 
that Suga and Fumiko generally ascribed to life when in prison , their 
metaphor for life, was ‘struggle’ - against both visible and not so 
visible opponents. This is what we might expect of someone in such 
a situation. But was it so for Suga in 1902 when she wrote her first 
journalistic articles and stories? Immediately before her final imprison- 
ment in 1910 she certainly represented Life in such a way. These texts 
of Suga’s do reveal that even then she was engaged in an all too violent 
‘clash with power’. But whether she saw it in that way as clearly in 
1902 as she did in 1909 or 1911, is questionable: in 1902 she had no 
reason to define, or metonymically reduce, her life entirely to one 
meaning in such a way. This Fumiko did in her prison memoir, 
however, which is why it has much more to tell us about her political 



32 Preliminaries 


struggle in the mid- IS 20s, than about her so-called ‘real’ beginnings, 
her childhood. 

When in prison each woman talked about her ‘beginnings’ in differ- 
ent ways. Fumiko narrated her story of the social origins or making of 
a nihilist, just as Suga described in her trial testimonies in 1910 her 
beginnings as a ‘direct actionist’ two years earlier. They invoked 
their experience of life’s realities against the ideological ‘unrealities’ 
presented by a succession of advocates of dominant morality and 
paternalism. This was a battle of life-constructs or constructs of the 
world (intensifying over the period of a decade in the case of Suga) 
where two individuals were saying what amounted to: ‘You represent 
this “reality” as universal, but it is not mine!’ 

The analysis in Part III does not seek to piece together a supposedly 
complete story of these women’s lives but, because interpretation of 
their representations cf life requires contextual understanding, one is 
likely to encounter some of the same difficulties as a biographer. 
When one turns to ask what was happening in the subject’s life at 
the time of writing, it might be necessary to consider the above men- 
tioned ‘semi-autobiographical’ works. In the existing biographies of 
Suga there is included as evidence information from so-called semi- 
autobiographical novelettes she wrote about heroines she did not 
name as herself. 46 For my purposes, however, it does not much 
matter whether ‘Akiko’ or ‘Tsuyuko’ was the historical Suga. If one 
sets out to interpret her representations of life, Suga-invented (perhaps 
Suga-like) heroines are just as useful. 

There are many difficulties encountered when trying to ‘read’ the 
life-story of Kanno Suga that has been pieced together by a succession 
of biographers. If one adds to the problem of ‘semi-autobiography’ the 
fact that the parts of tie story that Suga herself put together were nar- 
rated at different times, between 1902 and 1911, one is confronted by 
other anomalies: it was not only the contexts in which she wrote 
that were different; she must also have had different concerns at differ- 
ent times. Then there is the matter of different audiences. One might 
also want to ask to what extent representations of her life by contem- 
poraries have been explicitly brought to bear on the story, and how 
critically they have been treated. Arahata Kanson’s representations 
of Suga’s ‘past’ and character need to be treated with extreme 
caution, 47 yet in a work focused on the picture/s she painted of life, 
such contemporaneous constructions of her life can be utilized - not 
to add to the coherence or truth of Suga’s own life-story, but rather 
as an hermeneutic aid in understanding the context of her representa- 
tions of life. 



The work (structure, logic, method) 33 

STRUCTURE 

I have divided the remainder of this work into two parts focused upon 
constructions of ‘Death’ and ‘Life’ - ‘Engagements with death’ and 
‘Life-narratives’. This is both for the reasons discussed above (in 
order to treat ends as ends and beginnings as beginnings), and also 
because such a division accords with the apparent tendency of Suga 
and Fumiko to construct themselves as victors over death, and yet 
victims of life. This was only apparent because both women indicated 
that there had come a point in their lives when they decided that they 
would take no more; life would no longer victimize them. Chapters 3 
and 4 are thus devoted to the first step of an interpretation of the self- 
empowering meanings ascribed to death by Suga and Fumiko, while 
contextual discussion is largely carried out in the two subsequent 
chapters. I first set out what each said about death, attending to 
immediate questions of linguistic or cultural meaning, and also discuss 
the occasional action-statement of apparent symbolic significance. 
Here I also refer to pre-prison texts of Suga’s, but as we would 
expect, she did not discuss death as much before her final imprisonment 
as she did in her last days. I have found certain broadly death-related 
political themes - immortality, self-sacrifice, revenge, ontological 
pessimism-optimism, and death-affirmation and romanticization - to 
be useful for structuring a discussion of Suga’s treatment of death, 
and thus apply them also to the case of Fumiko. This will reveal 
both a number of similarities between the two, but also some important 
differences. 

In Chapter 5 I focus on the more abstract themes in the subjects’ 
constructions of death, for example, ontological pessimism-optimism 
and also ‘immortality’, interpreting them in the light of contextual 
‘discourse on death and beyond’. Here it will be seen, for example, 
how im-mortality, the negation of mortality, can be a means of self- 
empowerment, particularly in the case of an individual who is facing 
a death represented to be not of her own choosing. However she repre- 
sents that ontological continuity, it can be a symbolic statement that 
death is not so powerful an ‘enemy’ after all: ‘immortality’, in short, 
can become a weapon in a fight over the political - ontological meaning 
of death and life. In this chapter I consider the religious and philoso- 
phical ideas that might have influenced Suga’s and Fumiko’s construc- 
tions of death. The chapter is introduced by a brief, critical 
consideration of thanatological works, particularly those related to 
death in Japan and that apparent cultural monolith usually referred 
to as ‘the East’. 



34 Preliminaries 


Chapter 6 represents the second part of my interpretation of the 
subjects’ political representations of death against the background of 
their discursive-cultural contexts - in this case the ‘action-contexts’ 
of their statements on death. By this I mean the influences upon the 
more action-oriented elements of their constructs, those related to 
‘direct action’, heroic death, self-sacrifice/assertion, a romanticization 
of political death, and so on. Here I discuss the less abstract ways in 
which, in ascribing meaning to death, Suga and Fumiko empowered 
themselves, or presented themselves as victors over death, destiny 
and, last but not least, their enemies. This chapter is largely a con- 
sideration of the subjects’ political culture, and thus focuses on how 
they acted on the basis of shared understandings in their own time 
in Japan about political action, resistance and self-empowerment. 
This involves looking at contemporary, socially constructed patterns 
of political heroism and heroic death; and at how Suga and Fumiko 
appeared to model themselves on two common but different types of 
political heroes present both in Japan and elsewhere. Therefore, 
while in Chapters 5 and 6 I concentrate my attention upon the 
subjects’ immediate political-cultural contexts in order to interpret 
their representations of death, I also discuss foreign influences upon 
Japanese ideas and action-models. 

In Part III, Chapter 7, I divide Suga’s adult political career into 
three distinct periods in which she produced texts for different audi- 
ences. Any method of dividing up Suga’s career might be arbitrary, 
but the division in Chapter 7 has a certain logic because it mirrors 
ostensibly major changes in her political career. I emphasize, in 
other words, that such changes in her texts or in her constructions 
of life do not rule out continuities. Such an emphasis helps to under- 
mine the teleological tendency whereby pictures of the early Suga can 
be overly influenced by what she ultimately became. Suga had been 
rejecting dominant discourse and knowledge/s about life for much 
longer than Fumiko, yet despite the availability of texts in which she 
did this (from as ear y as 1902), the picture of her that has been 
handed down to posterity has been unbalanced by notions of who 
she ultimately was in 911. One starts, in other words, with a picture 
of what an anarcho-terrorist is, then looks back to see what sorts of 
linear stages would logically precede such an identity; and since one 
is looking for a precDnceived rational progression, one finds one. 
What is therefore produced are a few (‘reduced’) snapshots taken at 
different times: one of a Christian moralist-women’s emancipationist, 
another of a reformist socialist, and finally, the one of the anarcho- 
terrorist. But the trouble with snapshots is that they might fix one 



The work (structure, logic, method) 35 

for all time in a certain costume that was not always worn at that 
time. 

Chapter 8 focuses on Fumiko’s constructions of life from the year 
before her imprisonment in 1923 to her death in 1926. There are a 
few brief pre-prison magazine articles of Fumiko’s extant, and these 
will be discussed here. None the less, of Fumiko, we have only one 
clearly focused snapshot that froze her in one costume in one place. 
Fumiko left behind one complete, perfectly rounded-off life-story in 
her early testimonies and her memoirs, and much of her ‘real life- 
construct’ can be gleaned from this. Though it is not necessarily the 
case that the meaning that life held for Fumiko, or the meaning she 
presented, is more easily interpreted than Suga’s, presenting her texts 
is less complicated because they were mostly produced in one period 
and context. 48 Most were also produced, at least initially, for one audi- 
ence: Judge Tatematsu. After a brief introduction to her immediate 
political culture, her life-construct will be discussed (like Suga’s) in sec- 
tions marked by headings indicating the different types of intended 
audiences. 

Finally, to reiterate: in this book I consider the extent to which, and 
the many ways in which, Kanno Suga s and Kaneko Fumiko’s repre- 
sentations of death-life were strategies of self -empowerment. This 
need not imply that they always fully consciously set out to avail them- 
selves of power, but I still maintain that there was little ambiguity in 
Suga’s and Fumiko’s self-presentations as victors. Even when in 
prison they admitted to having once been the victims of life, it was 
as if they were determined to emphasize the contrast with their present 
complete selves. And when death was staring them in the face, it was 
depicted as controlled if not entirely ‘vanquished’, and held to be a 
beginning, not only an end. Death can come to symbolize both indi- 
vidual im-mortalization and a more social ‘revitalization’. 49 If for 
both women, death was held to be life, if destruction was construction 
and ends, beginnings, this in itself indicates both the personal and 
socio-political nature of their engagements with death and narratives 
concerning life. 




Part II 

Engagements with death 




3 Kanno Suga: ‘The unswerving path’ 


Knowing it to lead 

to a fathomless precipice, I 

hurry along - 

never once glancing back 

down the unswerving path. 1 


Suga reached such a precipice in her twenty-ninth year when at eight 
o’clock one morning she was escorted to the gallows. At 8:28 on the 
morning of 25 January 1911 she was pronounced dead. When she 
made an entry in her prison diary the day before, she was unaware 
that it would be her last, and on the day of her death she did not 
know that her eleven comrades had preceded her to the scaffold. 2 
According to the Buddhist prison chaplain, her countenance did not 
betray that this was a day out of the ordinary: she ‘went to her 
death as if happy, wearing a smile, and composed’. 3 Another witness 
to her execution repeated her last words. An instant before the stran- 
gulation commenced, she was said to have yelled: 1 Ware shugi no tame 
shisu, banzai 1 .' (‘I die for the cause, banzai!’) 4 One newspaper described 
the hanging, and the amount of time it took Suga to die, in graphic 
detail; while another inveighed against her ‘vanity’ in seeing herself 
as ‘a pioneer among Japanese women’, against her ‘godlessness’ and 
her self-indulgent habit of reading about Russian revolutionaries 
who had died for their ‘so-called principles’. 5 (She had said during 
the trial that she admired Sofia Perovskaya, leader of the five Russian 
populists executed in 1881 for assassinating Tsar Alexander II.) 

The surviving Meiji socialists were deeply shocked and grieved at 
the outcome of the trial, and what was particularly saddening was 





40 Engagements with death 

their knowledge of the innocence of most of the defendants. 6 But we 
need not dwell overlong on the attitudes of comrades toward Suga’s 
death, except to note one point. When Arahata Kanson wrote later 
of his feelings at being confronted with Suga’s brutalized body (after 
it had been collected from the prison), he also mentioned that Sakai 
Toshihiko had tried to drown in sake his grief at the loss of so many 
friends, and then took up a cane and went off smashing street lamps 
in the dead of night to let off steam. 7 When visiting Suga a few days 
before her execution, Sakai had let slip the telling remark, ‘I thought 
Kotoku and you would die for [us/the cause], but . . . ’; he was then 
unable to go on, in anguish over the fact that so many (initially 
twenty-four) had been sentenced to death. 8 What he was expressing 
was a common expectation that some would choose or even consent 
to die for the cause. He nce, while her execution was clearly profoundly 
saddening, for some of her comrades, Suga’s death came as no great 
surprise. 

Suga was buried by friends in the cemetery of a Tokyo Buddhist 
temple, Shoshunji, next to her younger sister, Hide, who had died of 
tuberculosis four years earlier. In connection with arrangements she 
made before her execution for the continued care of her sister’s 
grave and for the disposal of her own remains, Suga had made quite 
clear one aspect of the meaning she ascribed to death. Indeed, in 
order to make sense of some her remarks about death in her diary, 
one first needs to be aware of the fact that when talking of it she 
often spoke as a socialist materialist. In a letter written two days 
before her death she had asked Sakai and other friends to take some 
money to the temple to pay for the care of Hide’s grave, because she 
had neglected this. 9 She was not so ‘superstitious’ as to believe that 
sutras could save souls, she said in her diary that same day, but she 
wanted to make sure that Hide’s grave would be cared for. 10 We 
might simply note for the moment that her remarks seem to suggest 
an acceptance of the existence of a soul, her association of religious 
belief with superstition notwithstanding. 

Despite Suga’s ambivalence about both Buddhism and being buried 
herself at Shoshunji, her friends must have felt that she had really 
wanted to be buried with Hide. 11 They could not have known then 
of her last words on the subject in her diary. There she partly repeated 
what she had told them in person about wanting to be buried in the 
prison cemetery. The cemetery for executed criminals would be good 
enough, she wrote: it mattered little to her if her ashes were ‘scattered 
to the wind or thrown into the river’. But since she knew that this 
would not be possible, perhaps because it would be thought unseemly 



Kanno Suga: ‘The unswerving path’ 41 


or disrespectful to the dead, she had asked comrades to see to her 
burial in a way that would not be too troublesome for them. 12 

Before discussing further the contents of Suga’s diary it should be 
emphasized that she expected that her comrades would be able to 
read it after her death. In a letter to Sakai Tameko and Sakai Toshi- 
hiko she had said of the diary: ‘I’ll record in it frankly, reminiscences, 
feelings, confessions, desires, whatever occurs to me. I guess you’ll be 
able to read it sometime.’ 13 In another letter to Yoshikawa Morikuni 
(also a socialist), she explained that she could not write much in letters 
because of censorship, so she was recording everything in her diary, 
which she hoped he would read later. 14 That comrades were prominent 
amongst her intended audience might have a bearing on the fact that 
in the diary she seemed to be at pains to present herself as a materialist 
who rejected religion entirely - to appear as if nothing but mundane 
matters connected with her coming death were of concern to her. 
Her diary entry of 23 January suggests that she was less concerned 
about her own burial than with what her younger brother might 
think if he returned after a long absence in America to find Hide’s 
grave looking like the unmarked, unkempt graves of people with 
no surviving relatives. (Kanno Masao was by then the only other sur- 
viving member of the immediate family.) In the note she wrote to 
Sakai and other friends she had asked them to ensure that Hide had 
a new, clearly marked tablet, and requested that her brother erect a 
tombstone for Hide on his return. She said nothing about funeral or 
later memorial services for herself, nor about anything pertaining to 
her future spiritual well-being. 

Suga intimated that earlier she had stopped visiting Hide’s grave 
both because the rituals associated with such visits were ‘mere super- 
stition’, and because the Shoshunji priests were disagreeable. In 
1908, nearly three years before making these remarks in her diary, 
she had published an article which referred in passing to the rudeness 
of the ‘arrogant and mercenary’ head priest and his ‘cold-hearted’, 
equally greedy assistant. 15 (She volunteered the information here 
that Shoshunji was Shinshu, the True Pure Land sect of Buddhism, 
so this might have been the family religion.) Burying Hide at Shoshunji 
was something she clearly regretted later, for she said in that article 
that she would rather remove her sister’s remains to a public cemetery 
than have to deal with its priests. Because she had no money to pay for 
their services or give them gifts, she was ‘treated by them with con- 
tempt’. But despite the ‘mercenary’ attitude of the priests and their 
rudeness to her, Suga seemed at the time almost to forgive them 
their faults and ‘hypocrisy’, pointing out that it was unreasonable to 



42 Engagements with death 


expect them to be any different from anyone else just because they 
were ‘religious men concerned with people’s salvation’. After all, recit- 
ing sutras and tending people’s graves was their livelihood. 

Another point where Suga spoke as a materialist in her prison diary 
was in noting how a asurd and inconsistent of herself it was still to 
place food that Hid 2 had been fond of, or flowers and incense, 
before her portrait on the domestic altar. At death the body ‘becomes 
smoke or disintegrates into the atoms from whence it came’, she said, 
adding that she did not believe that the soul survived to appreciate 
such gifts. Yet she had still continued to do this through ‘the force 
of habit of many years, only because it gave her a little consolation’ 
or helped her to come to terms with her sister’s death. 16 She also inti- 
mated that when she herself had breathed her last and her body had 
become a mere ‘piece of flesh’, she little cared what happened to it. 
She did put some thought into the sort of coffin she wanted (a Wes- 
tern, full-length one), and also considered what she should be wearing 
when dead, only in case imperial loyalists should decide to disinter 
and, presumably, desecrate her remains. 17 

In her last days Suga appeared to be concerned only with practical, 
worldly matters, which is to say that if she had any faith in another life 
to come, there is little sign of it. Yet in her diary she often suggested 
that to have revealed a concern with anything spiritual in connection 
with death would have been a sign of weakness. Her materialist posi- 
tion was closely bound up with her identity as an anarchist, and to 
relinquish that would have meant not only a loss of face, but also 
disempowerment. Whether in this or other connections, in her last 
writings, Suga must he ve imposed some silences upon herself, whether 
consciously or unconsciously - speaking to different audiences differ- 
ently, depending upon whether they were lawyers, family or comrades. 


Thinking of 

ir y last day soon to come, 
I ponder 
my eternal life 
and smile. 18 


Only a few days before dismissing notions of the soul’s survival after 
death, Suga copied this tanka into her diary. The reference in the poem 
to an ‘eternal life’ is clearly at odds with the remarks cited above where 



Kanno Suga: ‘The unswerving path’ 43 

she seemed at pains to present herself as a scientific materialist; there 
she explicitly discounted the possibility of an after-life. This poem 
leads one to wonder whether her consolation in ‘living eternally’ was 
of a spiritual nature. It is doubtful that in it she was merely referring, 
say, to revolutionary immortality, despite the fact that she assumed 
this would be accorded her and her comrades. 

Suga recounted a conversation with the prison chaplain, Numanami 
Masanori, that was specifically about the subject of salvation and life 
after death: 

He spoke of how impressed he was that Mineo, one of my fellow 
defendants, had been blessed with a new faith in salvation since 
being sentenced to death, and doesn’t show a trace of anxiety. 
Then he encouraged me to find solace in religion as well. I replied 
that I could hardly have more peace of mind than at present. 
(For a true anarchist [crossed out]), Lt’s a bit of a joke that an anar- 
chist who categorically denies all power should suddenly in the face 
of death cling to one such power, the Amida Buddha, claiming he 
has found peace of mind. Still, I think that what Numanami said 
was fair enough given his position as a religious man and chaplain. 
I, however, have my own sort of preparedness and solace. 19 

(The defendant Mineo Setsudo was a Rinzai Zen monk but, according 
to Numanami, when facing death he converted to Numanami’s own 
Shinshu sect. 20 ) What Suga was specifically rejecting was the possibi- 
lity of salvation through faith in the benevolent intercession of 
Amida Buddha. She explained that her peace of mind, readiness for 
her execution, and consolation had nothing to do with religion. 

Sacrifice is a step that some must take. ... It was only after many 
sacrifices were made following the coming of the Sage of Nazareth 
that Christianity became a universal religion. Bearing that in mind, 
(I feel that [crossed out]) the sacrifice of so many of us is not so 
significant after all. 

These feelings, which I spoke about in the courtroom at the end, 
are always with me. I am confident that our sacrifice now could 
never be futile; it cannot fail to have some meaning. Therefore, I 
firmly believe that right up to the very last instant on the gallows, 
I will embrace in death a precious feeling of self-respect and won- 
derful solace in being a sacrifice for the cause; [I firmly believe 
that] I will attain a peaceful death free of uneasiness or anguish. 21 

Her emphasis in the first paragraph on ‘so many of us’ is significant 
because she too bemoaned the fact that so many comrades had been 



44 Engagements with death 

sentenced to death. S ne was angry and guilt-stricken that so many had 
been implicated ‘because of the actions of five or six’ who, she said, 
had been intent on sacrificing themselves for the cause. That she 
would draw a parallel between Christian martyrdom and sacrificing 
one’s life for one’s be liefs is not surprising given Japan’s own tradition 
of Christian martyrdom (mostly in early Tokugawa), 22 and also 
because many Meiji socialists had either once been or were still Chris- 
tians. Suga herself was baptized in a Protestant church in Osaka in 
1903, and remained e practising Christian for a few years. 

Suga had already stated more than once that her solace was not reli- 
gious but political, yet in her diary two days later she mentioned 
another visit from Chaplain Numanami when he remarked that it 
was clearly ‘because of [her] faith or political ideals that [she] had 
found peace of mind’. Some might have regrets if they were not closely 
involved in the conspiracy, he continued, but her ‘preparedness came 
of [her] commitment to it from the first until the last’. Suga wrote that 
she was gratified by his words, also because he did not try ‘to press reli- 
gious comfort’ on her again. 23 Her statements indicated her dismissal 
of any sort of religious comfort, either Christian or Buddhist. 

Beyond the ‘eternal life’ Suga spoke of in her poem, we have not 
uncovered any further indication of an inconsistency in her materialist 
position. Yet it was not only into the diary that she transcribed this 
particular poem, for she also included it in postcards to Imamura 
Rikisaburo and Ishikawa Sanshiro, on 13 and 14 January. 24 It could 
be significant that the two people to whom she sent the poem about 
eternal life were a defence lawyer, Imamura, and the Christian anar- 
chist, 25 Ishikawa Sanshiro. In the letter to Imamura dated 13 January, 
Suga included two poems as expressions of her gratitude to him for 
delivering a message to Sakai Toshihiko. The one that followed ‘my 
last day soon to come, I ponder my eternal life and smile’ was: 

Amidst 

limitless time and 
space - 

what could tiny beings have 
to squabble about? 26 

Her use here of the same word ‘ kagirinaki ’ (‘eternal’ or ‘limitless’) 
strengthens the possibility that she used it in the first poem in a meta- 
physical sense. The suggestion of the unimportance of the human 
world in the second does not suggest that in the first it was merely 
the thought of revolutionary immortality that made her smile while 
pondering her ‘eternal life’. To Ishikawa on the fourteenth she wrote 



Kanno Suga: ‘The unswerving path’ 45 

that she had generally been ‘in surprisingly good health and spirits’; 
and it was in illustration of that fact that she included the poem 
about her ‘eternal life’. What is thought-provoking about her sending 
the poems to these two individuals is the fact that while she went to 
great pains to explain in her diary - which she would leave to posterity 
(to her comrades and perhaps future socialists) - that her consolation 
was not spiritual but pragmatic, to a lawyer who was not a comrade 
and to a comrade who was a Christian, she offered no such explana- 
tion. This may have been unconscious, perhaps a mere coincidence, 
but it may have reflected inconsistencies in her thinking about religion 
because of the power of her upbringing or past. 

Suga had been a Christian for some years, though she indicated that 
Christianity was ultimately displaced in her ideals and commitments 
by socialism. Well after she became a socialist late in 1904, however, 
she still observed Buddhist rituals. (Of course, she may have ever! 
while still a Christian). For example, she said in 1911 that she had con- 
tinued to make offerings to Hide’s portrait after 1907 out of habit and 
because it consoled her or lessened her grief at the loss of her sister; not 
merely, for example, because Hide would have expected it. It might 
simply have been her way of keeping her sister’s memory alive, a 
ritual empty of religious significance for her. Yet Hide was not only 
buried in the graveyard of a Buddhist temple; on the forty-ninth day 
after her death, Suga had also observed the Buddhist ritual of offering 
up sutras for safe passage. 27 This was four years earlier but it was after 
Suga had become first a Christian and then a socialist. It was also 
despite the fact that Sakai had reported in a socialist newspaper at 
the time of Hide’s death that her ceremony was ‘without Buddhist 
or Shinto priests, without flowers or f ags’; it was a good ceremony 
based upon ‘only true human feelings’.. 28 

Particularly in a culture often described as unusually eclectic and 
syncretistic in religious matters, it is difficult to know how much 
importance to ascribe to inconsistencies such as these between materi- 
alist beliefs and religious practice. Suga may not have seen such rituals 
as meaningful, but still we cannot ignore the possibility that she 
observed them for reasons that had more to do with spirituality 
than practicalities like keeping her sister’s memory alive, or conform- 
ing to the expectations of Buddhist priests regarding safe passage 
ceremonies so that they would continue to care for Hide’s grave. 

On the other hand, we certainly cannot read too much into Suga’s 
saying while in prison that she would ‘pray’ [inoru] for the long life 
or good health of friends; she did not say she would pray to God or 
to the Gods or Buddhas. To ‘Takeo’ (a niece of Kotoku’s) she 



46 Engagements with death 


wrote, ‘From the bottom of my heart, I will pray for good health for 
all of you.’ And she asked other comrades to pass on the message to 
former lover and estranged friend, Arahata, that she would ‘be pray- 
ing for his good health right up until the moment [she] mounted the 
scaffold’. 29 But, her Christian and Buddhist background notwith- 
standing, there was no suggestion at all in Suga’s letters or diary that 
she would meet frierds again in a ‘great beyond’ (whether ‘heaven’ 
or Pure Land). In fact, more than once she said that this would be a 
final or ‘ eternal ’ parting. What also serves to confuse the issue of 
whether her representation of death was consistently materialist or con- 
tradicted by a belief in life after death is the fact that she also wrote: 
‘From beneath the earth at Zoshigaya [the prison graveyard], they 
are watching [me]’. 30 Was this merely a poetic reference to death’s 
awaiting her? 


Born in 

a very small land, 
I sacrifice 
my small life for 
a small hope. 31 


As we have seen, Suga insisted that she found solace in her last days in 
the belief that her de\ otion to the cause would be respected by future 
generations of revolutionaries. Sacrifice for the cause as ‘consolation’ 
in the face of execution was a recurring theme in her construction of 
death in her prison c iary and poetry, but it is also apparent in her 
letters and testimonies, often in connection with her motives for revo- 
lutionary action: 

I heard from Kotoku Denjiro [‘Shusui’] that Miyashita was a very 
resolute man, and 1 took it into my head that together with him I 
might be able to achieve an important task [daiji]. . . . Then we 
exchanged letters and discussed sacrificing ourselves for the cause. 
I think it was around that time [January, 1909] that I received a 
letter saying that Miyashita was researching the manufacture of 
bombs. 32 

While in this excerpt kenshinteki ni yarou ’ is ambiguous in the sense 
that it could be rendered as ‘devoting ourselves to’ rather than ‘sacri- 
ficing ourselves for’ tie cause, Suga was often more explicit in speak- 
ing of ‘dying’ ( shinu or taoreru ) or ‘laying down her life’ ( karada o 



Kanno Suga: ‘The unswerving path’ 47 

sasageru ) for her ideals or the cause. 33 She also associated doing some- 
thing ‘important’ ( daiji ) with death for the cause, which in turn sug- 
gests a view of heroism that involved achieving a ‘great’ death 
through an heroic act. 

The lawyer-writer, Hiraide Shu, made clear in his (‘fictional’) stories 
based on the incident the fact that he had found Suga’s romanticiza- 
tion of self-sacrifice hard to stomach. As Jay Rubin puts it, he thought 
her ‘absurd, her talk of sacrifice ludicrous’, and he also noted the irony 
that the government’s overreaction to the incident had ensured that 
she and her accomplices would have their moment of glory. 34 He 
held Suga and the other plotters partly responsible for the fates of 
innocent defendants. Hiraide reported her (‘Mano Suzuko’s’) last defi- 
ant statement in court, which she ended with a plea for the lives of her 
innocent comrades. Rubin observes that ‘Suzuko’s’ insistence on their 
innocence is consistent with the real Suga’s diary, doubtless because in 
that diary she said she had spoken of sacrifice on that day. What seems 
rather out of character for Suga, however, is ‘Suzuko’s’ implied equa- 
tion of failure with womanhood, even i f most of the statement is con- 
sistent with her late writings. 

We’ve put you to a lot of trouble for quite some time now, but 
today at long last the affair has come to a close. I have nothing 
more to say. And I have nothing to repent. For me the only dis- 
appointing thing is that the [two characters censored, probably 
‘revolution’] we put so much effort into ended in complete [two 
characters censored, perhaps ‘failure:’ or ‘suppression’]. It’s because 
I’m a woman - and women lack spirit - this is my shame. Among 
our predecessors there were many who died courageously setting us 
an example of decisive action. I feel I have failed those predecessors. 
I will die with good grace because this is my destiny. Those who 
sacrifice themselves are always most honoured and esteemed by 
later generations. I too have become such a sacrifice, and will 
now die. 

I believe that a time will come someday when my aims will be 
vindicated, so I have no regrets. There is one favour I would ask 
of you. I am quite prepared. I was prepared from the beginning 
when we made these plans. I will not be at all discontented however 
severe my punishment. But there are many others apart from 
myself. These people had no connection with us at all. 35 

In one early cross-examination Suga had said something similar about 
only being disappointed that the plan had ended in failure. Asked by 
the judge whether she had understood the law against inflicting injury 



48 Engagements with death 

on the sovereign, sh ; responded: ‘I don’t know anything about that. 
But it must be the heaviest penalty of execution. If we had achieved 
even part of our purpose I’d be determined to sacrifice myself, but 
the real pity of it is that we were caught because of silly [mistakes] 
and it has turned into this sort of case.’ 36 Both in claiming a solace 
that came from her belief that she would be accorded the respect 
due a (willing) political martyr and in expressing regret only at the fail- 
ure of her plans for revolution, this revolutionary proclaimed that she 
was not about to concede defeat. 

In mid-May 1910 Suga wrote three letters to Kotoku that reveal 
something of her tendency, even before her imprisonment, to roman- 
ticize self-sacrifice arid heroic death. The last was sent just two days 
before she was due to begin serving a prison sentence of a few 
months for contravening the publication laws the year before. It was 
a week or so after her imprisonment that her co-conspirators were 
arrested, and the high treason case began. Suga ended the second 
letter to Kotoku on 12 May as follows: 

I must resign myself to going [into prison]. There’s no point in wast- 
ing my days of freedom hoping. ... I ask affectionately that you 
please take care of yourself. If you keep in good health, I won’t 
mind how many years I’m in prison. I won’t even mind dying. 37 

Compared with her other two letters at that time, this was calm and 
quite reasoned; it was affectionate, and indicative at least of self- 
effacement, if not necessarily abnegation, with regards to Kotoku. In 
this letter she was apologizing for a previous letter which was in her 
own words ‘wild’, ‘hysterical’ and ‘morbid’. Yet on 16 May she 
again seemed rather morbid’: 

When you hear of my current illness [a bad cold], you’ll probably 
tell me I must postpone going into prison. But I will go resolutely. 
I’d rather sleep in prison than here. It’d be better to die in prison 
than linger on and die here. That would have some meaning. 
Then there would be some consolation in death. 38 

Suga’s use of terms 1 ke ‘consolation’ (isha) or ‘solace’ (ian) here and 
where she spoke of he r solace in being a sacrifice for the cause suggests 
that she may not have been as prepared to die as she insisted else- 
where. But perhaps the amount of consolation she needed depended 
upon how she was tc die. She apparently believed that the best way 
to meet death would be while attempting some important task. 
When she spoke of lingering on and dying, it seemed that consolation 
was all the more necessary because this would be such an undramatic 



Kanno Suga: ‘The unswerving path’ 49 

death to no purpose. She did not glorify death in general, only heroic 
death. Suga had actually said in an article four years earlier that what 
she most hated was the thought of dying of a lingering illness (like her 
sister. Hide): she would rather die in a bold, resolute ( omoikitta ) sort of 
way. Only a few weeks later, moreover, she wrote in a highly romantic 
fashion about her ideal lovers - the ideal lovers’ (‘double’) suicide, she 
argued, would be one where a man and woman fought for a cause 
( shugi ) and died for their ideals (riso) together. 39 By the time Suga 
wrote these letters to Kotoku in May 1910, both she and he were 
suffering from serious consumptive conditions, and it was natural 
for her to wonder whether she would survive her prison term. Yet 
she implied that even dying of illness would be meaningful so long 
as it happened in prison. 

In speaking during the trial of sacrifice for the cause as a means of 
making the movement survive and grow, Suga was both warning her 
opponents and scoring some points in this rather deadly game of 
power. Time and again she expressed her conviction that the police 
and courts might be able to kill off anarchism, but it would be born 
again through the sacrifice of the defendants: ‘the tall tree falls only 
to put forth new shoots again’, she wrote. This scarcely veiled threat 
was also evident in one of her tanka where she used the metaphor 
of regeneration or ‘reincarnation’ again: 

Do not search 
for a seed lost 
in a field - 

pray wait for a day in spring 
with an east wind blowing. 40 

Here she likened herself and her comrades to seeds putting forth life 
again after death. It was as if she were saying that in death there is 
life - ends contain within them beginnings. After referring to the 
tree, she went on to say that ‘in these spring days in the world of 
thought’ those like her ‘who willingly took on the role of pioneers 
[had] no need to look back to past days of autumn and winter’; they 
must look ahead, ‘forge ahead, looking toward the bright future 
anticipated’. 

Implicit in Suga’s use of these springtime-growth metaphors was a 
threat that the authorities had only appeared to win this round. She 
had also made it clear in her testimonies that her belief in the necessity 
of sacrifice so that anarchism might continue to live, or live again, was 
not only a post-facto consolation that helped her come to terms with 
her imprisonment and sentence. She insisted that, on the contrary, her 



50 Engagements with death 

vision of heroic sacrifice had been bound up with her initial decision to 
make an attempt on the emperor’s life, hopefully as part of a ‘revo- 
lution’. Early in the Pretrial Hearing she explained that when she 
had used the term ‘uprising’ to refer to their immediate aims, the 
prosecutor understood it inappropriately as ‘meaningless violence’. 
Therefore she retracted the term and substituted ‘revolution’, which 
meant similar sorts of tactics as in the French revolution: ‘carrying 
out assassinations, temporarily halting transportation facilities, also 
arson or setting fire to various buildings, in short, showing that the 
spoils could be taken back from the spoilers, even if just for a 
while.’ 41 (The last few words suggest that she did not necessarily 
believe that this ‘revolution’ would be victorious.) What is clear is 
that she represented a belief in the necessity of self-sacrifice as both 
her initial motive and ultimate consolation; for it had initially con- 
tributed to her choic e of death, or her readiness to die in a heroic 
act. 42 

Perusal of Suga’s later trial testimonies also reveals frequent usage 
of the phrase, ‘shugi no tame ni’ (for my/our/the ism or cause/beliefs/ 
ideals), followed by at least five variations on ‘to die’. The theme of 
either dedicating one s life to one’s ideals or dying for them had also 
run throughout Suga’s earlier journalistic works in a way that has a 
quite Christian ring to it, though Christianity was only one of several 
likely sources of inspiration for it. The following exchange between 
Suga and the prosecutor during one of her later interrogations sug- 
gests layers of cultural meaning that go far deeper than the surface 
description of their strategy for anarchist revolution. This is suggested 
partly by the prosecutor’s use of the phrase ‘ kesshi no shi (the closest 
approximation of which is ‘warriors determined to die’). 

Ques. 17: During November of that year [1908] did Kotoku ever 
talk to you about forming fifty kesshi no shi, distributing bombs 
and other arms, gathering together the poor in Hibiya Park and 
attacking the wealt hy, then taking advantage of all this to destroy 
government offices and march on Nijubashi [the palace], invade 
the Imperial Palace, inflict injury on the Imperial Family - wanting 
to bring out a state of anarchy in just one day? 

Ans: There was that sort of talk sometimes. But at that time we 
didn’t consult about anything concrete . . . 

Ques. 19: Didn’t K.otoku reveal his ideas about violent revolution 
to Sakamoto Seim a and tell him to go about the area agitating 
and recruiting kesshi no shil 



Kanno Suga: ‘The unswerving path’ 51 


Ans: Kotoku often told Sakamoto to go around agitating and I 
think he directed him to recruit comrades, but I don’t know 
whether he told him to recruit kesshi. no shi for the revolution. 43 

(Sakamoto was one of the twelve first sentenced to death, then to life 
imprisonment.) In the phrase ‘ kesshi no shi', it is clear from the context 
that ‘shi' meant samurai-style fighters. While ‘ kesshi ' is sometimes ren- 
dered as ‘death-defying’, one is not merely risking death, but rather 
embracing it, being determined to die. 

The conceptualization of ‘revolution’ in this exchange was almost 
certainly influenced by patterns of samurai rebellion in Tokugawa 
and early Meiji. According to the now famous seventeenth-century 
samurai text, Hagakure (Hidden Among Leaves): ‘Where there are 
two ways to choose, let your choice be that one that leads to 
death. . . . When your mind is set on death, your way through life 
will always be straight and simple’. 44 It seems that ‘ kesshi no shi ' 
was a catch-phrase at the time, though not necessarily amongst socia- 
lists. Unlike ‘sacrificing oneself for the cause’ or the masses, socialists 
may not have seen it as very modern. In the past it had often implied 
selflessness, however, which was a popular ideal also in Meiji Chris- 
tianity, ‘new’ Buddhism and socialism, as well as in the developing 
hegemonic ideology centred on the imperial-centred State Shinto. 
Perhaps Kotoku’s apparent unwillingness to use ‘ kesshi no shi ' implied 
that he associated it with earlier imperial ‘loyalists’, and thus saw it as 
reactionary: 

Ques: Was your purpose in sending Sakamoto on a propaganda 
tour to recruit kesshi no shil 

Ans: If there were earnest people about, I told him to find them. 
Ques: Doesn’t what you call earnest people amount to kesshi no shil 
Ans: That is what it amounts to. 45 

When asked again about discussions between himself and Suga about 
recruiting these ‘samurai’, Kotoku responded that of course they ‘may 
have talked sometimes about being ready to die and starting a revolu- 
tion for the sake of the cause’, but they did not consult about anything 
‘concrete’. 46 In sum, even if the defendants did see the phrase ‘ kesshi no 
shi ' as anachronistic, their alternative of ‘direct actionist’ seems little 
different in meaning from samurai heroism, since both involved similar 
tactics (assassination) and were closely tied to an elitist, altruistic form 
of self-sacrifice (for the people, nation, Cause or ‘masses’). 



52 Engagements with death 


There are lots of people I’d love to scare out of their wits if I could 
return as a spook or ghost, starting with the supreme court judge/s. 
How delightful it would be to see them scream ‘Aaiee!’ petrified 
with terror. Ha! 47 


Revenge was another quite traditional theme that appeared often in 
Suga’s testimonies and late writings. It was intimately connected 
with her emphasis on a heroic, ‘great’ death, and with her positive 
view of self-sacrifice for her ideals. She could have been half-serious 
when she spoke here of coming back from the dead, at least in the 
sense that it reflected her frustrated desire to avenge herself on those 
responsible for the persecution of socialists. Before making these 
remarks in her diary about haunting judges and others, she mentioned 
that Prosecutor Taketomi had promised to visit her grave with flowers 
and incense if she was executed. When she told someone about this, 
her listener thought the prosecutor must have been ‘superstitious’, or 
afraid, presumably, that Suga might come back and haunt him, 
adding that it would be funny if when he did visit her grave she 
grabbed him dramatically by the sleeve. 48 It was in this context that 
Suga went on to laugh about the fun she might have as a ‘spook’. 

Furthermore, if the account by Hiraide (discussed above) of 
‘Suzuko’s’ last declaration at the trial in the Supreme Court can be 
taken to be an accurate representation of Suga’s words, there too 
she may have been trying to menace court officials and police. 
‘Suzuko’ concluded her final plea with these halting words: ‘Innocent 
people may be killed just because we made these plans. If I should see 
such an unjust outcome, I . . . I . . . even when I die ... I may die, but 
death will not be the end of me.’ 49 Existing translations of this do not 
quite grasp the sense of her expression of being literally unable to die 
really or truly {‘shindemo . . . shinde shini-kiremasen’), 50 which has a 
sense of dying yet not being extinguished or quelled by death, 
having to take regrets or anger beyond the grave, being unable to 
rest in peace. In Japanese folk belief an uneasy spirit, especially one 
who died harbouring a deep resentment or anger toward ‘evildoers’ 
(e.g., its murderers), will not let go of its attachment to the phenom- 
enal world and will be imbued with a terrible, vengeful supernatural 
power. 51 

Suga’s first statement to the Prosecution had been much more expli- 
cit about her desire for revenge. There she actually threatened to kill 
the same man who later promised to visit her grave. Voicing her readi- 




Kanno Suga: ‘The unswerving path’ 53 


ness to talk to anyone but Taketomi, she explained that ever since he 
had prosecuted her in two earlier incidents, she had been determined 
to pay him back for his ‘severity and heartlessness’: 

While I was in prison then, I resolved not to rest until I killed [you] 
Prosecutor Taketomi, the enemy I’d grown to hate. And when we 
raised the revolutionary movement, I was determined that the 
first thing I’d do would be to hurl a bomb at your head. If I 
hurled a bomb at you, I imagine your life blood would gush with 
just about as much vigour as you had when delivering that 
[court-room] address, wouldn’t it? 

In the months after my release from prison in September last 
year, 1909, my resolution to kill you did not waver. Also when I 
was told after my collapse in October when I was feverish and 
unconscious that I’d raved in my delirium about Prosecutor Take- 
tomi - that I bore that deep a grudge against someone - it was 
enough to make me laugh. Then someone, I don’t remember 
who, said that Prosecutor Taketomi - was not that brutal person- 
ally, and my antipathy subsided a little. Also, because I had 
much to do for the cause and my own affairs to attend to, until 
today there has been no opportunity to kill you. 52 

Suga vowed that now she was in prison again she would kill him, if she 
could get ‘a bomb or a blade’. She reminded him that others bore deep 
grudges against him too and had ‘a debt to pay’ him. He would be 
‘fortunate to die a natural death’, she sneered, before reiterating that 
she would not tell him, her despised enemy, anything. 

This did not mean that she would not talk about her role in the 
affair or of that of her co-conspirators. Subsequent statements were 
given to other prosecutors, and she answered questions put to her 
by judges during the pretrial hearing readily enough. Her final 
words to Prosecutor Taketomi in this first statement were: 

If I were involved in this affair, since the offence carries the death 
penalty, naturally I’d be very determined and therefore tell all 
and not keep anything back. It’s only you I won’t talk to! 53 

In connection with this statement two points are of interest: firstly, 
there is the suggestion that the likelihood of the death penalty was 
all the more reason for Suga to be resolved and admit to her role in 
the conspiracy; secondly, there is the related point that she had 
every intention of admitting her guilt - to anyone but him. She 
seemed in part to be playing a power-game with Taketomi, ‘getting 
back at him’, perhaps trying to deprive him of some of his ‘glory’, 



54 Engagements w ith death 

though she also said that she did not trust him to record her words 
faithfully and not twist them. At least at this point, if not necessarily 
later, it seems that this was one ‘fatherly’ individual Suga was sus- 
picious of. 

Taketomi was not the only enemy Suga had had in her sights, for 
naturally she mentioned the emperor, and also Yamagata Aritomo. 
Yamagata, one of the Meiji oligarchs and a former prime minister, 
was implacably hostile to liberal democracy, not to mention socialism, 
and was largely responsible for the removal of the more liberal Prime 
Minister Saionji from office in July 1908. Saionji’s replacement was 
one of Yamagata’s coterie. General Katsura, who intensified police 
efforts against the spread of ‘dangerous thought’. 54 Hence, in Suga’s 
view Yamagata was largely responsible for the repression of socialists. 
She went on to say later that she would happily throw a bomb at 
Yamagata. He had long been their target and she ‘hated him the 
most’ because he was the ‘most reactionary among the genro ’ (elder 
statesmen); he had played the greatest part in preventing the attain- 
ment of democracy, and had ‘persecuted’ socialists incessantly. For 
him, she was only tco willing to take on the role of parricide. 

In relation to the emperor, however, Suga was not a very willing 
parricide, as intimated above. She did not have a personal grudge 
against him, because he was only a symbol of state power and, 
though he would have to die because of it, she felt this was regrettable. 
Her final words in this statement might sound out of character for an 
anarchist: 

Though I actually feel it is a pity to do away with the current sover- 
eign in his capacity as an individual, as sovereign of a system that 
oppresses us he is the one who stands at its apex, and it is therefore 
unavoidable. It is necessary, that is, because he is the leader of the 
spoilers. The reason why I think it is a pity is that he merely leaves 
things up to his government officials, and cannot know anything 
firsthand about society. I think that if we were able now to speak 
with him a little in person about democracy, he might come to 
understand and put a stop to this persecution. But in the situation 
there is today there is no hope of our having an opportunity to 
speak to the sovereign. He is a noble and great person, so it is 
regrettable but truly unavoidable. 55 

The theme of the (fatherly) ruler kept in ignorance about social ills and 
evils by officials is familiar from Russian, Chinese and Japanese tradi- 
tions, as is the wish that the (‘benevolent’ and ‘innocent’) lord or 
sovereign could be petitioned directly. 56 Here, Suga tended to take 



Kanno Suga: ‘The unswerving path’ 55 


as given the paternalistic aspects of emperor-system ideology, even to 
the extent of according this ‘father’ final responsibility for such ills. 

Suga emphasized during the trial that she had begun to entertain the 
idea of retributive assassination and insurrection seriously after being 
arrested in 1908. There is no doubt that she meant the authorities to 
understand that they had brought the incident upon themselves by 
oppressing people such as herself: 

When I was imprisoned in connection with the Red Flag Incident in 
June 1908, I witnessed the brutal behaviour of the police and 
became utterly indignant, realizing that in these conditions it was 
impossible to disseminate our ideas by peaceful means. 57 

The ‘Red Flag Incident’ will be discussed below, but it might be noted 
here that Suga said that it was not just police brutality that had out- 
raged and radicalized her, but also the unjust treatment meted out 
to some socialists who had not really been involved in it. 58 In this 
way she impressed upon her interrogators the fact that it had been 
from mid- 1908 that political tactics and revenge had come to be 
closely connected in her mind - the authorities had only themselves 
to blame for ‘creating’ her. Actually, she had used the rhetoric of 
violent struggle as early as 1906, 59 so there is reason to doubt that 
her vision of revolutionary tactics had actually changed all that 
much over the years. Clearly, however, in 1910 she had sound political 
reasons to stress that it was not until a desire for vengeance was added 
to her anger at social inequalities that she came to believe in the neces- 
sity of violent struggle. As she told it, by mid- 1908 high on her ‘hit-list’ 
were particular prosecutors and politicians, police and judges because, 
like others in Japan long before her, she had wanted to wage a moral- 
political rectification campaign against the corrupt and evil - all those 
in power who were lacking in the justice, mercy and benevolence they 
preached. 


All day long I’ve been feeling pessimistic. Senseless human exis- 
tence! I’ve long breathed [life’s] chilly air, but I can no longer 
endure it. Life! The agony of life. To what purpose do mortals con- 
tinue on their journey of meaningless wretchedness? 60 


This is most of the letter to Kotoku referred to above, that Suga 
described as ‘wild and morbid’ in her second letter to him in mid- 
May. And in this pre-prison text of Suga’s we do find a suggestion 



56 Engagements with death 

of quite a negative, ‘pessimistic’ 61 attitude toward life. Was it a logical 
consequence of this that she affirmed death so resolutely later when in 
prison? It is not surprising that she would despair of life in January 
1911 when under two ‘sentences’ of death. 

We saw above how Suga was already very ill before the high treason 
case when she expressed this weariness of life. It might be tempting to 
conclude that it was per not having long to live anyway, that made her 
want to take hold of her own fate by dying for the cause, but she had 
fantasized about dying ‘well’ long before her final imprisonment. The 
fact that it was from as early as 1906 that she romanticized a revolu- 
tionary heroic death (the year before she contracted tuberculosis) does 
not suggest that her later readiness for a political death was only due 
to her, probably terminal, illness. Also, it was from the latter part of 
1908 that she and her comrades had talked about laying down their 
lives for the cause. Thus, these early statements of Suga’s determina- 
tion to fight, perhaps even die for the cause were made at a time 
when death itself was not yet an enemy to be conquered. 

By the time she wrote the letters to Kotoku in May 1910, however, 
death was not Suga’s only foe: now she had another enemy that was 
only too visible, the repressive state. Therefore her apparent onto- 
logical ‘pessimism’ in mid-May must have had some decidedly political 
causes. Indeed, if before her third and final imprisonment her con- 
struction of death was already markedly political, we can expect to 
find it more so during the treason incident. Then her affirmation of 
death and related negation of life were not at all abstract. She 
seemed in effect to be saying to her interrogators that she was not 
only determined to die - in a manner she had decided herself - but 
would welcome the release that death would bring, the escape from 
a world they had made insufferable. Fighting back in whatever form 
or forum was available to her, Suga in her prison diary stated in 
anger that a life without freedom was not worth having: 

Poor, pathetic judges! In order to retain your standing, solely to 
safeguard your own positions [knowing it to be unjust, knowing 
it to be outrageous - deleted], knowing [that inhuman decision - 
deleted] it to be unjust, knowing it to be outrageous, you must 
have been compelled to hand down that inhuman decision. 

Poor, pathetic judges! Slaves of the government! More than being 
angered by you, I pity you. Here I am constrained by this barred 
window, yet I spread my wings in the free world of thought; you 
appear to us to be shackled or restricted by no-one, yet in truth you 
are pitiable human beings - pitiable [brutes - deleted] human beings 



Kanno Suga: ‘The unswerving path’ 57 


who liveyourlives as humans but have no human worth. Onemay live 
a hundred years without freedom, in servitude, but what would such 
a life be worth? Poor, pathetic slaves! Poor pathetic judges! 62 

One suspects a touch of sarcasm in the remark about the ‘free world of 
thought’ given official concerns at the time with controlling ‘dangerous’ 
thought, definitions of which were fair broader than merely anti- 
imperial ideas. None the less, here her message to the judges is clear: 
she may have been facing death, but had lived her life ‘freely’; she had 
been physically ‘shackled’ before and was so again, but continued to exer- 
cise her freedom to think. One often gets the impression that she was 
raging inside at her impotence, though wary of revealing it too clearly. 

Suga had long been fond of suggesting that her ideals would deter- 
mine her fate. Both before and after her final imprisonment she often 
presented herself as much more than a passive victim of destiny. In an 
article in 1909 she said in the context of police harassment and sup- 
pression of socialists that the situation was such that they were 
being forced to choose between giving up the struggle and pushing 
on toward revolution. 63 She followed this with: ‘Thus, our precious 
government of Japan does us the favour of creating many conspirators 
[muhonnin, also meaning rebel or traitor].’ This seems to indicate a 
choice imposed by an outside agent, but we could also take it to 
mean that the ideals she had herself chosen would not allow her to 
give up. Here she represented ‘destiny’ as something decided both by 
herself and others. 

When in her diary she struck out at her foes with the observation 
that servile judges and the like, who were not permitted to think for 
themselves, were locked into a sort of living death, Suga was saying 
that she had at least been able to choose freely and live by her 
ideals. The life judges lived, on the ether hand, was equivalent to 
slavery. Implicit in her remarks was an equation of rebellion with 
truly living, even when it led to death. Death through rebellion was 
associated with freedom, for it was the result of free thought. Given 
the situation she and her co-defendants were in, this association 
comes as no surprise. (Fumiko said much the same thing.) But Suga 
was still critical of comrades who turned their backs on the struggle. 
At one point in her diary she wrote in anger: 

There are some who discard their ideals like worn-out sandals, 
afraid of government persecution, looking out for their own 
safety. Ah, the vicissitudes of fate! How faint-hearted is the 
human spirit! Let those who would quit, quit; let those who would 
die, die! 64 



58 Engagements with death 


After contrasting these who quit the struggle with those who remained 
true to their ideals, she went on to make the remark about the tall tree 
(of anarchism) falling yet putting forth new shoots. She seemed to be 
suggesting that for those like her who had truly lived and were there- 
fore about to die for the cause there would be a sort of life in death, 
while those who had opted for life, servitude or safety were as good 
as dead. 

Suga’s apparent negation of life before and during her imprison- 
ment was expressed on the one hand by referring to human life as 
‘senseless’ and to people’s journey through life as ‘meaningless’. On 
the other hand, life for political radicals like herself was held to be 
impossible. In a situation where the state seemed to be ‘calling the 
shots’, the only self-willed, agentic way left open to them seemed to 
be rebellion and death. Her view of rebellion implied death since she 
believed it to be symbolically necessary to kill the emperor. But if 
she sought death because she really believed that human life was 
senseless, meaningless or inherently bad, we might wonder about her 
apparent desire to sacrifice herself for an ideal future society. 

Ultimately, then, she seemed to be at pains to present herself as 
optimistic about life; for freedom would come. More to the point, par- 
ticularly during Suga’s imprisonment her apparent ‘ontological pessi- 
mism’, and its corollary of an affirmation of death, were obviously 
means of showing her political resolve and her defiance. Hence she 
continued to ‘spread her wings’ despite the physical constraints of 
the courtroom and her prison cell, recasting the threat of death as a 
promise, thereby asserting to her judges and executioners (also to 
her comrades) that death was something she had chosen and would 
happily embrace. In short, the constructions she placed upon death 
were, in effect if not always by conscious design, weapons in an 
ongoing political struggle that partly hinged upon contesting meanings 
of death (and, by extension, life). 


Watching 

the evening skies 

slowly 

clouding over - 
a raven, forlorn. 65 


This poem evokes a feeling that could only be described as ‘black,’ 
whether or not the ra ven (in Japan, a symbol of death) was an alle- 



Kanno Suga: ‘The unswerving path’ 59 

gorical allusion to herself. Apart from I he gloom or darkness implied 
by the words ‘forlorn, raven, evening, clouding over’, there is also the 
suggestion of a deeper blackness yet to come, both with the night and 
with the storm. The poem is in marked contrast, therefore, with many 
of Suga’s pronouncements in her prison diary and letters that seem 
markedly, perhaps suspiciously, bright. 

In this final section I therefore look at the darker side of the picture, 
at moments when Suga seemed to let down her guard. It is not so 
much Suga’s positive pronouncements about death that concern me 
here as her ‘contradictions’, and the silences she might have imposed 
upon herself particularly when in prison. The problems involved in 
taking her remarks at this time at face-value - as statements of how 
she ‘truly’/consistently saw death or life - are self-evident. But like 
her diary, even her earlier journalistic articles had probably largely 
been aimed at a political audience in whom she wanted to encourage 
resistance; also partly at ‘persecutors’ to whom she wanted to broad- 
cast defiance. Toward prosecutors and judges later she clearly wanted 
to be a defiant and brave combatant, and thus was all too ready to 
implicate herself and her co-conspirators, though protective of those 
she knew to be innocent. And perhaps she was merely being solicitous 
toward her friends in personal letters, wanting to appear in good 
spirits in order to lessen their worry and grief. In her diary we might 
detect that same solicitude, coupled with a concern with how she 
would be seen after her death. When considering Suga’s constructions 
of death when in prison, therefore, we also need to think about what 
she might have suppressed. 

The issue is not Suga’s frankness, however, for she was probably as 
candid as she could be under the circumstances. Not only in the letters 
to friends already mentioned but also in her diary she stated her desire 
to try to be honest with herself: 

This is to be a record written very frankly, without whitewashing 
myself, without pretence, without deceiving myself, from today 
when I received the death sentence until I mount the scaffold. 66 

Two days later she repeated that it would ‘record the naked Kanno 
Sugako without any falsehood or affectation’, and later again she 
wrote the following which reveals rather more than her desire to be 
completely frank about her feelings: 

22 January. Fine weather. Lastnight I was in low spirits for the first 
time since entering prison. That tragedy of a final parting really 
strained my [sensitive - deleted] nerves. Although since 2 June 



60 Engagements with death 

last year when the affair was detected, I have wanted to be quite in 
control of myself [my nerves - deleted], if I can be overwhelmed 
even for one night by such singularly indefinable emotions, I 
really am a worthless individual. I am a little disgusted with 
myself. If this sort of faint-heartedness [persists], what will 
become of me? 

Still, this was probably a natural human response. That special 
human characteristic of Eastern heroes, not showing their joy or 
anger or revealing their true feelings, is impressive in one way, 
but it is also a definite deception, an affectation . . . [but] for ordin- 
ary people with their capacity for emotions without falsehood or 
pretence, there is no reason to exist in such an insensible way. 
I am a small person [i.e., not a ‘great’ one]; I’m an emotional, an 
extremely passionate person. I hate lies, detest affectation, hate any- 
thing unnatural. I cry; I laugh. I rejoice; I rage. It’s fine with me if 
I reveal my lack of sophistication. It doesn’t matter to me how 
others measure my worth. If I can end my life without deceiving 
myself, I’ll be content. 

But today I’m ir very high spirits. My feelings of last night have 
been buried with the night, and I wonder why I felt like that. 67 

It is quite clear in this passage that she was trying to be brave and reso- 
lute; and that she war ted to be seen as being in control of herself. She 
later justified her outburst during the ‘final parting’ from her friends, 
Osugi Sakae, Hori-Osugi Yasuko and Sakai Toshihiko, explaining 
that, while she had ‘plenty of resolution’ any other time, seeing their 
faces had inexplicably brought on tears. To Sakai she wrote that she 
was very depressed after their visit for the first time since her 
imprisonment. 68 She lid at times let down her guard with her com- 
rades and partly admit to her periods of despair, but it was specifically 
in connection with an unwillingness to say goodbye to her friends. 

It is not the case that Suga’s diary consists only of political protes- 
tations about her long-held willingness to sacrifice herself for the cause 
and consequent preparedness for such a death. It often reads as 
though she jotted down spontaneously whatever she was feeling at 
that moment. At one point fond memories cause her to feel ‘both 
happy and sad’; at another she wonders why she feels so restless, 
and worries about whether enough time remains for her to take care 
of the things that stiil need attending to. 69 At another time, warm 
and relaxed after her weekly bath, she feels the best thing would be 
to ‘just melt away, drifting into an eternal sleep’. 70 Moreover, upon 
reading the ‘exaggerated verdict’ coerced out of the judges, she is 



Kanno Saga: ‘The unswerving path’ 61 

deeply depressed and unable to lift her spirits to write anything. 71 
When she opens her eyes every morning, she thinks, ‘Oh, I’m still 
alive!’, and it seems like a dream. And told a story of an unknown 
samurai reprieved on the way to his execution, she remarks cynically 
on how she ‘admires the depth of experience’ with which this chaplain 
‘preaches Buddhism . . . coming up with such timely stories’. 72 

Yet to get a clearer view of the shadowy areas of the picture Suga 
painted of her last days and the fate that now stared her in the face, 
we could turn again to her poems. These are the most revealing of 
her writings precisely because they suggest the contradictions that go 
hand in hand with human emotions and human projects. By focusing 
upon Suga’s explicitly political representations of death - specifically 
her apparent determination to appear in control of the meaning and 
value of it - perhaps we automatically relegate to the unfocused mar- 
gins of the picture the moments when h er mask slipped to reveal some- 
one not nearly so strong. These three tanka express emotions not at all 
in evidence in her statements to the Prosecution or to judges, and not 
so explicit in most of her diary: sorrow, fear and uncertainty. 

The wounded - 

kept up late in the night 

weeping, 

with the pain of 

wounds old and new. 

Frozen 

in my chill bed at night, 
how often 
I listen to the 
stealthy sounds of sabres. 

Brave, brave 

child of revolution; timid, 
timid child of tears - 
are they one and the same? 

I look at myself and wonder. 73 

If the nature of Kanno’s intended audience (comrades) did lead her to 
impose certain silences on herself most of the time in her diary and last 
letters, to the extent that she did so consciously, it could have been 
partly out of a desire to spare her friends pain. She did seem to 
want to act in a manner befitting a willing revolutionary martyr, at 



62 Engagements with death 


least partly for their benefit. But we cannot lose sight of the context in 
which she was writing them, her cell, because what that suggests is that 
she was simply unwilling to reveal to her immediate audience, her ene- 
mies - possibly even to herself - what fear she did have of death, or 
how much she lacked confidence in her mission, or how sad she was 
to part from the world. Therefore, expressions of sadness, fear or un- 
certainty were rather submerged in her last texts. They, after all, were 
largely designed to show the world that still in her last moments she 
was resolute in her resistance to a state that would legally murder so 
many for the ‘patricidal’ fantasies of a few. 



4 


Kaneko Fumiko: ‘The will to die’ 


One’s limbs 
may not be free 
and yet - 

if one has but the will to die, 
death is freedom. 1 


On the morning of 31 July 1926 the news headlines in Tokyo read: 

From a hemp rope tied to iron bars , death by hanging in the bright 
morning sunshine. Kaneko Fumiko hanged herself in prison under 
the very noses of those checking on her every ten minutes or so! 

Beside this account on page one of the Asahi Shinbun, more headlines 
ran: ‘Body taken secretly to prison cemetery during the night’. Below 
there was more: ‘“It is not that we permitted her to commit suicide”, 
insists the head of the prison branch: the lawyer, Fuse Tatsuji, says 
“Responsibility lies with the branch”.’ 2 This was the Tochigi women’s 
branch of Tokyo’s Utsunomiya Prison where, in April, Fumiko had 
begun serving her life sentence. (Pak Yeol had been sent to Chiba 
Prison). Fuse, Defence Attorney for Fumiko and Pak Yeol, was 
quoted as saying that because the defendants had each been refusing 
to eat, he and their friends had wanted permission from the Assistant 
Chief of Police to visit and try to reason with them. The police official 
had also been concerned about the possibility of suicide, given that 
they had been pardoned by the emperor - for if they killed themselves 
no apology to ‘His Benevolent, Gracious Majesty’ would be enough to 
atone for the insult - but he still refused their friends permission to 




64 Engagements with death 

visit. The surveillance of each of them was ‘perfect’, he insisted; there 
had been ‘no cause for concern’. 3 

Fumiko’s death had actually occurred a week before it hit the news. 
The death certificate gave her time of death as 6.40 a.m. on 23 July 
1926. 4 The cause of death was recorded as suicide by suffocation 
caused by severe throttling of the throat by a hemp rope. According 
to prison staff, Fumiko had not only been refusing to eat, but stead- 
fastly refused to co-operate in doing the work assigned to women 
prisoners, weaving rope from hemp. But then she asked to be allowed 
to work and was given the hemp. She worked hard that day, and the 
next morning the guard on duty looked in on her at 6.30 to find her 
diligently twisting the rope; yet when she was checked some ten 
minutes later, she was found hanging limply from the same rope now 
attached to bars at the window. She was immediately taken down and 
given artificial respiration, but it was too late; the doctor who arrived 
within twenty minutes also could not revive her. An autopsy was per- 
formed by the prison doctor with a local doctor in attendance, and 
their report expressed amazement at the ‘determined, carefully pre- 
meditated, and calm manner of suicide’. 5 

Prison authorities did their best to keep Fumiko’s death a secret, 
informing only her mother by urgent telegram on the same day, 
asking her to come and collect the body. When she refused, they peti- 
tioned her again, but ultimately decided to bury Fumiko in the grave- 
yard nearby used for criminals with no relatives. Because of the gravity 
of the matter of Fumiko’s death, the head warden had warned staff 
who knew of the ‘calamity’ to keep it quiet. The reason he gave for 
the secrecy, both then and later when he was quoted in the newspaper, 
was the ‘shock to society’ and strife the news might stir up amongst 
anarchists and sympathizers. He, too, hinted at another reason when 
he told her mother, lawyer and friends that he had increased surveil- 
lance of Fumiko bect.use he was worried she might try to commit 
suicide: he believed that if she did manage to kill herself, he might 
be dismissed or have to resign in apology. 6 One point that should be 
made about the possibility of foul play is that if Fumiko had been 
murdered - or forced, encouraged or ‘allowed’ to commit suicide - 
it would have been tantamount to a countermand of the emperor’s 
‘divine command’ that she live. Thus, even if she was particularly 
unpopular with prison officials and guards, they might have deemed 
it wise to let her be. Once again, the apology the head warden alluded 
to, therefore, would have been to the emperor, indirectly at least. 



Kaneko Fumiko: ‘The will to die’ 65 


One person who certainly did beg forgiveness for Fumiko’s death 
was her mother, Kaneko Kikuno, but it was for her daughter’s in- 
gratitude: 

I did not have any idea that Fumiko was in Tochigi Prison until I 
had in my hands the urgent telegram I received at four p.m. on the 
twenty-third, advising me to collect her body because she had died. 
I was so thankful that Fumiko was saved like that from the death 
penalty that I never dreamed she would commit suicide. . . . 
There is nothing I can say that would be enough to apologize to 
everyone for Fumiko’s killing herself when they went to so much 
trouble to save her like that. 7 

In ‘everyone’ she probably included the judiciary and government 
(for arranging an imperial pardon), as well as the emperor himself. 
The fact that Kikuno did not know that Fumiko had been transferred 
is an indication of the degree to which Fumiko was distanced from 
her family. Her comrades knew, however. One anarchist friend of 
Fumiko’s, Mochizuki Kei, had been allowed to visit her about ten 
days before she died, and many years later he said that the two had 
been permitted to sit in the garden unsupervised, There he did a 
sketch of her. 8 But she had not been in contact with either of her par- 
ents for years, so to the journalist Kikuno explained that she had 
assumed the prison would have Fumiko cremated and her ashes 
delivered to Pak’s older brother for burial in Korea. She must have 
been told by prison authorities that Fumiko had been legally registered 
as Pak’s wife not long before she died. 9 

Because of the secrecy surrounding Fumiko’s death for at least a 
week, some of her intimates were init ially suspicious of the story put 
out by the authorities. What Mochizuki said about his meeting with 
Fumiko ten days before her death might suggest this because he said 
she had not appeared to be in a suicidal frame of mind. There were 
‘traces of sadness’ in her face, he recalled, but she seemed in reason- 
ably ‘good spirits, calm as always, not much changed at all’. 10 But 
comrades certainly thought it strange that her lawyer had not been 
informed, though Fuse would have been regarded with suspicion by 
the authorities. Advertisements for Fuse’s legal help - for help, that 
is, from ‘The Proletariat’s Friend, Rebel in the World of Lawyers, 
Fuse Tatsuji’ - ran in radical publications in the 1920s, including 
those put out briefly by Pak, Fumiko and their group, the Futeisha 
(Malcontents’ Society). 11 And before long he himself was imprisoned. 12 
If the authorities wanted to keep news of Fumiko’s death out of 
the papers, Fuse would have been the last person for them to inform. 



66 Engagements with death 

It was after Kikuno told Fuse that the story broke. Then, because of the 
secretiveness of prison officials, some of Fumiko’s friends felt they 
would not be satisfied until they saw her with their own eyes, so on 
30 July a party comprised of Fuse, Kikuno and friends set out for 
Tochigi Prison. The exhumation was at dawn the next day, but, decid- 
ing it was too late for a post-mortem examination, the group took her 
immediately to be cremated. 13 

There was no way anyone could have known for certain that 
Fumiko killed herself, even if it was clear that the cause of death 
was hanging. After all, as Elise Tipton has noted, out of about 6,000 
people prosecuted between 1928 and 1943, ‘some hundreds suffered 
from torture and some dozens died in police custody’. 14 This notwith- 
standing, some of Fumiko’s friends and also others connected with the 
trial seemed ready to accept that she had taken her own life. Kurihara 
Kazuo, a Futeisha comrade who had been present at the exhumation, 
wrote only a few years after her death, ‘We know only too well the fact 
that Fumiko hanged herself.’ 15 There was good reason for this ready 
acceptance of Fumiko’s death by her own hand, for comrades and 
even some prison and judicial officials had actually expected her to 
try to commit suicide after her death penalty was commuted to life 
imprisonment. The widow of Judge Tatematsu also said many years 
later that her husband ‘had been very worried about Fumiko because 
he had a presentiment that she would die after being moved to 
Tochigi’. 16 Involved in her case since its beginning, Tatematsu had 
known Fumiko well. 

As for her lawyer, twenty years later at a welcoming reception held 
on 17 December 1946 to celebrate Pak Yeol’s release from prison. 
Fuse made a speech that was more about Fumiko’s death than 
Pak’s survival. In that speech he assumed she had taken her own 
life. Responding to requests from the audience of assembled Korean 
and Japanese comrades and sympathizers, he gave the ‘true facts’ 
about her death as follows: 

We are moved by compassion to ask ‘Why did Fumiko die in 
prison?’. We cannot help but be moved by Fumiko’s deter- 
mination. ... You [to Pak] fought to survive today, but pure-hearted 
and stubborn Fumiko could not see that far. She couldn’t take such 
a far-sighted view. . . I wonder what the significance of her life was - 
as a wife devoted to Pak Yeol, as a Korean national devoted to 
Korea - even while she was living it in a Japanese prison under a 
life sentence of penal servitude that plundered her of body and 
soul. The fact that she died dedicating her life to Pak Yeol and her 



Kaneko Fumiko: ‘The will to die’ 67 


bones were buried in Korean earth, becoming Korean earth, reveals 
to us the determination with which Fumiko dedicated herself body 
and soul to Korea. I believe that her death in prison truly put into 
practice the pure self-sacrifice of women; in going to death 
Fumiko was magnificent. I feel she died well for us. I want you, 
Pak Yeol and the whole assembly of Korean comrades here, to 
pay homage to this model Japanese; woman who put into practice 
a glorious love of her comrades that crossed the national boundaries 
between Japan and Korea. I want you to praise the determination 
that kept Fumiko from the joy of being with us on this platform 
at this reception in celebration of Pak Yeol’s wonderful survival. 17 

(Hence the title of his biography of Pak: Victor Over Destiny.) This 
was Fuse’s welcome for Pak, and elegy for Fumiko. In explaining 
the reasons for her death, he used the term ‘ junjo ’ (pure-heartedness 
or self-sacrificing devotion) twice and sasageru ’ (to dedicate or sacri- 
fice one’s life) four times. From his remarks both about her stubborn- 
ness and her feminine ‘junjo’, it is clear that, for him, Fumikos’ taking 
her own life was an example of typically feminine self-sacrifice for a 
husband or family. His reference to Fumiko as a ‘Korean national’ 
could only have meant that he believed she styled herself in that 
way, even if she had not legally become Korean through marriage. 
In colonized Korea, Koreans were deemed Japanese, albeit second- 
class citizens. Thus, the ‘true facts’ of her death that he shared with 
the assembly were mainly that she had given her life for her husband, 
comrades and Korea. A knowledge of Fumiko’s presentation of her- 
self as a nihilist or egoist renders Fuse’s interpretation of the ‘true 
facts’ of her death rather dubious, as we will see, but, given his empha- 
sis here on the ‘truth’, we might wonder if some present on that day 
were still suspicious of the circumstances of Fumiko’s death. Yet 
apart from his choice of words which could be taken to imply suspi- 
cious circumstances - his repeated use of the verb ‘ gokushi shita ’ 
(died in prison) rather than, say, ‘ jisatsu shita’ (committed suicide) 
or ‘ishi shita’ (hanged herself) - there is no other suggestion in his 
speech or elsewhere in his biography of Pak that Fumiko did not 
take her own life. And in the liberal atmosphere after the war, Fuse 
would have had little reason to conceal any doubts he may have had. 

More recent sources, both in English and Japanese, also take it for 
granted that Fumiko’s death was from suicide, and this includes even 
anarchist publications by Kokushoku Sensensha. 18 But there is good 
reason both for the above-mentioned expectation of intimates that 
she would kill herself and for this general acceptance that she did. 



68 Engagements with death 

Perhaps one can never know for certain what happened in her cell 
early that morning on 23 July 1926, but in her own declarations 
there were a number of implicit suggestions or explicit statements to 
the effect that this wis what she had intended. It was not only that 
she challenged judges to sentence her to death; on the other hand, 
she also continued to affirm death. She insisted that her will to die 
stayed firm, both early in her term of imprisonment when she 
tended to negate Life itself or later when she affirmed it. Thus, her 
death by her own hand has been seen as a natural consequence of 
her ideas. Like Suga, Fumiko’s insistence that she had chosen death 
and would embrace it readily was clearly a means by which she 
sought to mitigate the power of her accusers. Suga’s ‘ontological pes- 
simism’ was only apparent, however, while for Fumiko it was for a 
time a weapon in her armoury, albeit one she ultimately replaced by 
an affirmation of both life and death that for her was truly ‘nihilistic’. 


The moon 
shines, it shines 
and yet, 

people still follow 
an endless dark road. 19 


Whether Fumiko met nt to depict life as an endless road of darkness 
and suffering or was more concerned with human ignorance, this 
poem well captures a negativism about humanity that she often 
expressed. It conjures up a picture of life as a path along which 
people blindly grope their way, though the path is illuminated by 
the moon and should be clear. Thus, it suggests classical Buddhist 
‘pessimism’, since in Buddhism ignorance and suffering are intimately 
connected and the moon has often symbolized enlightenment. The 
theme of death as freedom and thus a release from life (‘an endless 
dark road’) recalls a similar emphasis by Suga. 

When in prison botli Suga and Fumiko represented (death through) 
rebellion as the true a m of life. Fumiko’s equation of the ‘will to die’ 
with ‘freedom’ is clear in the poem heading this chapter, but her atti- 
tude becomes even clearer when one considers her words while ripping 
the imperial pardon to shreds in anger in April 1926. As if this action- 
statement, completed before Ichigaya Prison officials and chaplain 
could overcome their shock and stop her, was not itself enough to 



Kaneko Fumiko: 'The will to die’ 69 


consummate her ‘blasphemy’, she was also reported to have said at 
that moment: 

You toy with people’s lives, killing or allowing to live as it suits you. 
What is this special pardon! Am I to be disposed of according to 
your [plural] whims? 20 

She was probably not just directing her comments to the official hand- 
ing over the pardon to her, but at the authorities generally, including 
the emperor. There is little doubt that both in word and deed she was 
often trying to make it clear to her adversaries that it was not they who 
were in control of her situation and destiny. 

Yet there had been many occasions during the trials when Fumiko 
said she wanted to die or insisted that it was she who had chosen her 
own death. She repeatedly demanded that the authorities sentence Pak 
and herself to death. Two years before she tore up the ‘benevolent’ 
pardon from Japan’s supreme paternal figure, she had said in court: 

If you want to prevent an incident materializing, now is the time. 
You’d better kill me. However many years you keep me in 
prison, if you let me out into society once more, without fail I’ll 
show you I can start afresh. I’ll show you I can annihilate myself, 
and save you the trouble. Come, come, send this body of mine any- 
where you like - even to the scaffold, to Hachioji Prison. Bodies 
only die once. Do as you please. If you do something like that 
with me, it will just be proof-positive for me that I’ve lived my 
life to the full. I’ll be satisfied with that. 21 

Her final words show that for her the way in which one died was the 
measure of one’s life. The ‘incident’ mentioned was an imperial assas- 
sination attempt. She had just explained that the imperial family was 
manipulated by those she most ‘abhorred’, the government and their 
agents who were ‘the holders of real power’. None the less, she said 
that she and Pak had discussed throwing bombs at the imperial 
family because they were the most obvious symbols of social inequal- 
ity, even if said to be representative of national ‘harmony’. 

Fumiko was able to declare that she had chosen death partly 
because, according to her own testimony in the Supreme Court in 
1926, she had lied about the extent of her guilt. That is, she had 
long pretended that she and Pak together laid practical plans for an 
imperial assassination attempt. One part of the plans was arranging 
to send their Korean comrade, Kim Choon Han, to Shanghai to 
procure explosives. But Fumiko now admitted that she knew of this 
plan only when it had already fallen through, hastening to add that 



70 Engagements with death 

she had not objected when she did find out about it. She had claimed 
much earlier in the trials that she had offered to go herself to Shanghai 
because a Japanese woman would not be bothered by police. (Pak was 
both Korean and a known radical. 22 ) Of course, this may not have 
been true either. Perhaps it was partly because of such inconsistencies 
in her testimonies that before the Supreme Court trial judges decided 
to subject her to a psychological examination to see if ‘madness’ might 
be grounds for sparing her from the gallows. While they might have 
expected a woman to be more than usually ‘emotional’, they probably 
could not comprehend her alternating fits of reticence and outbursts of 
passion and hostility - especially when it came to greater and lesser 
father-figures. It is difficult to know whether to describe their finding 
her ‘sane’ to be predictable or strange, given the all too obvious 
‘confusion of tongues 1 between her and her ‘protectors’. 

Fumiko’s ‘confession’ in 1926 about her lack of guilt was as follows: 

Even supposing that Pak had discussed the matter of Kim Choon 
Han with me, it’s open to question whether I actually would have 
opposed it. No, I probably would’ve had faith in him and let him 
get on with it. The result is certainly as I’d expect, and I guess it’s 
now over. I would not have censured Pak then. No, no [in English], 
quite the contrary, I would’ve been very happy about it. 23 

This was part of a memo she drafted the night before she read it out in 
court. In it she suggested that by this time such an admission would 
make no difference, and it did not: her ‘blasphemous’ statements 
about the imperial family and her threats against them were enough 
to convict her of high treason. 

The only explanation Fumiko gave for now denying knowledge of 
Pak’s attempt to import bombs was that she ‘could not bear deceiving 
herself’; it was not that she ‘felt any duty or responsibility’ to tell offi- 
cials the truth. What she meant by deceiving herself is unclear, but per- 
haps she simply disliked the pretence and wanted to set the record 
straight. The statement she read aloud in court ended as follows: 

I know Pak, and I love him. Whatever his faults and weaknesses, I 
love him. Now I unconditionally approve of the mistakes Pak made 
that affected me as well. So, to Pak’s friends I say: ‘If this incident 
seems stupid to you, go ahead and laugh at us both. It’s only our 
affair.’ And to the officials I say: ‘Please go right ahead and hurl 
us both under the guillotine. If I can die with Pak I’ll be content.’ 
And to Pak I say: ‘Even if the sentence handed down by the officials 
should separate us, I’ll never let you die alone.’ 24 



Kaneko Fumiko: ‘The will to die’ 71 


Presumably, the ‘mistakes’ she mentioned were in connection with 
Pak’s getting caught, while the reference to his friends might have 
meant those who had been arrested with them, but were then released. 
Perhaps Fumiko thought they were laughing at Pak and herself for 
implicating themselves and taking a futile, ‘heroic’ stand. 

Apart from the questions it raises about the extent of Fumiko’s guilt 
and about whether she was intent on sacrificing herself for Pak, this 
statement shows that her ‘confession’ was not a last-minute attempt 
to evade the death penalty. It suggests also that for a long time 
during the trials she not only refused to defend herself, but co- 
operated with the authorities in establishing her guilt. That she was 
guilty of anti-imperial treachery was clear from the start, but the 
extent to which she had played a part in the ‘conspiracy’ is not 
clear, even if one of the Futeisha members, Niiyama Hatsuyo, had tes- 
tified that Fumiko once let it slip that Pak had received a letter from a 
member of the Korean independence terrorist group, the Uiyoldan. 25 
In her statement Fumiko emphasized that she still accepted the tactic 
of imperial assassination theoretically, but whether there had been any 
serious ‘intent’ on her part is impossible to know. Despite all her pro- 
testations that there had been, she may have deliberately lied about 
this too to force the hand of her enemies. 

As intimated above in connection with Fuse’s representation of 
Fumiko’s motives for suicide, discussion of the constructions she 
placed upon death (and life) could not be conducted without reference 
to her ‘nihilism’. The most important of her nihilistic influences was 
the egoist. Max Stirner, whom she often quoted, but she also men- 
tioned in her memoirs an interest in Nietzsche. 26 Because her under- 
standing of nihilism changed significantly during her prison term, I 
might proceed by contrasting a few of the early statements in which 
Fumiko negated life itself in pessimistic style, with some in the 
Supreme Court in 1926. In her second court testimony in 1924, in 
answer to Judge Tatematsu’s question about how she came to embrace 
nihilism, she narrated her full life history. This was her conclusion to 
that narration: 

I don’t bear a grudge against my father or mother, but it is true that 
much of my life was spent in extreme hardship. I was cursed by it 
everywhere I went, and this made me want to die as I do, annihilat- 
ing everything, cursing nature, cursing society, cursing all that 
lives. 27 

In her next testimony she repeated that ‘the total destruction of all life’ 
was the goal of her nihilism, at another point ‘the annihilation of the 



72 Engagements with death 

human race’. 28 It seems that here Fumiko used ‘annihilating’ literally: 
she was not expounding a radical solipsism whereby the ego and what 
it creates are the only knowable and existent things, and thus all would 
be annihilated with its destruction. While such an emphasis on annihi- 
lating humanity might not suggest it, she explained her ideas quite 
rationally, if not always coolly, in her Twelfth Interrogation Record 
and elsewhere. However, she did get carried away with the rhetoric 
of ‘destruction’ or ‘negation’ at times; and said as much herself later 
in 1926. 

Fumiko’s early declarations about the nature of her nihilism imply 
that for her it first meant a negation of Life. Thus, it is unclear whether 
she was then aware of Nietzsche’s condemnation of ‘nihilism’ - of the 
‘life-denying, pessimistic and dualistic’ systems of Christianity, ideal- 
ism, and so on. He distinguished two types of nihilism: the ‘passive’, 
negative type prior to himself; and the ‘awakened or active’, positive 
type. 29 Perhaps we could term Fumiko’s earlier nihilism, negative 
and her later nihilism, positive. To give a further indication of the 
former, we might turn to a letter she wrote to Judge Tatematsu in 
May 1925 which was largely inspired by a third nihilistic influence, a 
Russian novelist named Mikhail Artzibashev. 30 She quoted Artziba- 
shev in this letter which she signed ‘Kaneko Fumi’ and dated simply 
the morning of the 21 st (of May 1925). 

After six in the morning. For something to do before breakfast, 
I opened up and looked through the collected works of a Russian 
writer which was sent in to me a few days ago. I was impressed 
by one paragraph I came across by chance, and I’ll take this oppor- 
tunity to preach tc you: ‘It’s a joke to admonish a person who 
wants to live not to want to live. Likewise, it’s a real joke to turn 
to a person content with life and tell him his life is very unhappy.’ 
So I say to you: ‘It’s a joke to admonish a person who doesn’t 
want to live to want to live. It’s a real joke to turn to a person 
not content with lif; and tell him his life is very happy.’ 

For me life has no value. Value comes through a person’s having 
joy in life. Everything about humans is individual, but nothing is 
more coloured by individuality than the issue of life and death. 

Here she stated that life had no value and she did not want to live, 
though we could hardly fail to note that this statement was to a 
judge who was probably trying to tempt her to recant so she could be 
‘absolved’. Equally noteworthy is her reference to the highly individual 
nature of life and death and her refusal to beg - presumably for her life: 



Kaneko Fumiko: ‘The will to die’ 73 


For the person who says ‘I want to live’, even if it’s as a beggar, 
clearly life itself is the highest value. But, for the person who 
wants to die rather than being a beggar, life in itself has little value. 

For the person who wants to live to see ‘life’ as the object and 
drag the person who doesn’t want to live [back] to ‘life’ is a joke, 
ridiculous, an unwanted favour. It reveals [that person’s] own 
superficiality and blindness to reality. 

A person can fully live only when the process [English word] of 
life itself is happy for him [sic], or when his life is given meaning 
by something. 

Say there is one certain person . When [this person] wants to cast 
off a reality full of pain, or rather wants to go to the darkness with 
joy, who has the right to pull him [sic] back to endure that pain? 

Finally, Artzibashev said: ‘Only t hose who find joy in life should 
live; those who don’t see anything in it must die.’ Finally, I say: ‘The 
person who wants to live - live! The person who wants to die - die! 
That’s the reality of life.’ 

Judge, your half-measures bother me. I don’t know why you 
understand me so little. You should consider well the words and 
feelings I’ve expressed here, then come and see me. 

Give me back my letters soon, please - what [you’ve] ‘prohibited’. 
May is almost over, you know. Come and see me soon. 31 

Fumiko’s reference to the judge’s ‘half-measures’ probably meant he 
was too ‘soft’, or that he was dilly dallying. 32 Otherwise, it must 
have been Artzibashev’s Sanine that she cited, because its hero did 
say at one point: ‘He only ought to live who finds joy in living; but 
for him who suffers, death is best’. 33 This letter reveals the familiarity 
between Fumiko and Tatematsu, as well as the ambivalence of their 
relationship. It is also an indication of why he had thought Fumiko 
might die in prison. 

At the end of 1925, in one of the many statements where she 
declared that she alone controlled her destiny, Fumiko retracted her 
earlier (negative nihilistic) call for the ‘annihilation of all life’. She 
wrote out a long untitled statement for Supreme Court Judge Itakura 
in which she expounded her nihilist thinking yet again. In this state- 
ment Fumiko explained what she now meant by negating or affirming 
life, both life in general and her own life: 

Formerly I said ‘I negate life’. Speaking scientifically, that is so . . . 
[but] a negation of life does not originate in philosophy, for life 
alone is the origin of all things. . . .Yes. My negation of all life 
was completely meaningless. Negation is not created from negation. 



74 Engagements with death 

The stronger the affirmation, the stronger the negation created. 
That is, the stronger the affirmation of life, the stronger the creation 
of life-negation together with rebellion. Therefore I affirm life. I 
affirm it strongly. And since I affirm life, I resolutely rebel against 
all power that coerces life. . . . Thus you officials might ask, 
Then why did you pretend you were trying to destroy your own 
life?’ I would answer: ‘Living is not synonymous with merely 
having movement. It is moving in accordance with one’s own 
will. . . . One could say that with deeds one begins to really live. 
Accordingly, when one moves by means of one’s own will and 
this leads to the destruction of one’s body, this is not a negation 
of life. It is an affirmation.’ 34 

Her comments on ‘life-affirmation’ suggest an influence from 
Nietzsche and/or Stirner. At about the same time as making this state- 
ment, Fumiko declared that up until then she had ‘overstated’ what 
she had been saying about ‘annihilating all things’. This was just ‘bom- 
bast’ because she really only intended to ‘eliminate’ those with power 
over her. 35 She had a so got a bit carried away with ‘cursing life’, she 
said in the Supreme Court in February 1926, when really she ought to 
‘affirm life . . . affirm everything’; she ‘could not accept the thinking 
that aimed at the annihilation of humanity’. 36 But, as Morinaga indi- 
cates, affirming Life still did not mean that she was telling the Supreme 
Court Judges that she wanted to live. 

For the purposes of this preliminary discussion of Fumiko’s use 
of ‘nihilism’ as a discursive weapon, the most important point in her 
later untitled statement is her assertion that an affirmation of Life is 
creative: it creates bo h one’s own physical negation, and one’s affir- 
mation (will to rebel, perhaps ‘will to power’). Self-creation and ego- 
assertion are central themes in Stirner, who also said ‘the own will of 
Me is the State’s destroyer’. Fumiko insisted that an assertion of 
will (through ‘deeds’) was positive, notwithstanding the negation- 
destruction of one’s physical self. ‘Life-affirmation’ for her seemed 
to mean something I ke it did for Stirner: en/'ojunent of life meant 
using it up, ‘consuming’ it (or ‘annihilating it’), while also consuming 
or ‘dissolving’ oneself 37 In an earlier statement of Fumiko’s, without 
the emphasis on life-affirmation but still rather similar, she had said 
that her (terrorist) ‘plan’ was both negative and positive: ‘negatively, 
it is the denial of my individual life, while positively, its aim is the even- 
tual collapse of all authority in this world’. 38 She had no qualms about 
applying the word ' ter o ’ (terrorism) to her aims, but hers was said to 
be a ‘philosophical’ rt.ther than ‘political’ form of nihilism. 39 



Kaneko Fumiko: ‘The will to die’ 75 


An early testimony of Fumiko’s, the twelfth, which she gave in May 
1924, has been taken as representative of her thinking throughout her 
stay in prison. 40 It is most often cited in discussions of her ideas 
because in it she went into great detail about various aspects of her 
ideology. It contains an explanation of why she opposed the emperor 
and emperor-system. Yet the problem with taking this testimony as 
representative of Fumiko’s nihilism, is that it is an early statement 
of her ideas which she continued to develop throughout her stay in 
prison. She was not nearly so pessimistic about life later, for example, 
which is to say that she was more careful to expound a death- 
affirmation that was not merely the logical consequence of a personal 
negativism about life. 

Fumiko believed her ultimate ‘affirmation of Life’ was consistent 
with her nihilist-egoist philosophy. Even late in the trials she still 
said she wanted to die, though if she first took Stirner’s assertion ‘I 
do not love [the world], for I annihilate it as I annihilate myself’ 
literally, now she was careful to differentiate between destroying all 
life, and destroying just those in power. This threat that she often 
hurled at the authorities while expounding her approach to death 
and life could hardly have been more explicit. She clearly meant 
that, one way or another, she too would be destroyed in or through 
acts of rebellion. Amongst her ‘acts of will’, moreover, were symbolic 
acts or ‘deeds’. One has been mentioned - her ripping the imperial 
pardon to shreds. One wonders if F umiko’s audience, like Suga’s 
before her, could have failed to see the contrast she was setting up 
between those who lived a living death, and those like herself whose 
death through a Life-affirmative, self-willed rebellion would be proof 
of the fullness and truth of a life. 


My soul 

will perish, and yet - 
washing my hands 
of the ugliness of the 
human world is fine by me. 41 


We often find Fumiko indicating her disgust with the human world - 
in another poem, her ‘blazing hatred for humankind’. In the above, 
however, we also find the hint of an ambiguity in her view of death 
and beyond. She did not, like Suga, set out to prove herself a scientific 




76 Engagements with death 

materialist and dismiss continuity after death, and one can see in 
Fumiko’s writings signs of a spiritual consolation in the face of 
death that she apparently saw no reason to conceal (even if she 
meant to leave her memoirs and poetry to comrades). In this poem 
about the ugliness of humanity Fumiko first categorically states that 
her soul will perish, cease to exist or be destroyed (waga tama 
horobi), but then specifies that it is the world of people that is ugly, 
and therefore that it is this she will leave. At the very end of her auto- 
biography she wrote: 

My existence will probably soon vanish from this world. But I 
believe that even though phenomena are extinguished as phenom- 
ena, they continue; in a real eternal existence. Now, tranquil and 
composed I lay down the brush with which I wrote this memoir. 
Blessings on all those I love! 42 

Whether she used ‘blessings’ (shukufuku) with a consciousness of its 
religious connotations or used it as a formality, out of habit rather 
than conviction, is not a question that can be resolved. Her use of 
‘blessings’ is reminiscent of Suga’s ‘praying’ for her friends’ good 
health and long lives. Yet there is little doubt that she was expressing 
a belief in some sort of continuity after death when she referred to her 
‘real [non-physical] existence’, which would be ‘eternal’. It might seem 
as though Fumiko me rely meant that matter is conserved even if not in 
the same form, but the way she expressed herself in this entire passage 
suggests otherwise. Firstly, she spoke of vanishing from ‘this’ world 
(kono yo), then said that like all phenomenal things she would be extin- 
guished, but suggested that she would none the less continue in a non- 
phenomenal form (‘ Shikashi , issai no gensho wa gensho toshite wa 
horoboshitemo . . .’). if, however, she only meant that she would con- 
tinue in some other phenomenal form, why would she have described 
this continuity as no: only a ‘real/true existence’ ( jitsuzai ), but also 
one that is ‘eternal’ {eierif! 

It would certainly be reading too much into Fumiko’s words to 
ascribe to them a Judeo-Christian-like concept of the soul (a per- 
manent continuity of individual personality) - even if she did once 
experience a dramatic though brief conversion to Christianity - but 
her suggestion that there is a reality which is eternal, which is not phe- 
nomenal or connected with this material world, has a decidedly spiri- 
tual ring to it. About her own ‘soul’, moreover, she also penned the 
following: 



Kaneko Fumiko: ‘The will to die’ 77 


Deploring 

the war of two minds 
within - 

of the spirit and the flesh. 

That’s me these days! 

My spirit! 

Here I am in prison, 

driven 

to hoping 

it’s immortal. 43 

There is no ambiguity in Fumiko’s use of ‘spirit’, because she used 
‘ tama ’ (also the ‘soul’) in both cases. The two poems remind us of 
Suga’s smiling when she pondered her ‘eternal life’, but Suga had 
flatly denied that her consolation in the face of death was religious. 
Fumiko made no such declarations, and when she hoped for ‘immor- 
tality’, she was speaking of the survival of her ‘soul’, not revolutionary 
immortality. Her hope for ‘immortality' was like Suga’s in one way - a 
consolation when death was approaching, and probably a way of 
strengthening resolution. And apart from the similar political function 
of their conceptions of ‘immortality’, the two also had in common a 
fantasy about vengeance from the grave which indicates a frustrated 
desire for this-worldly retribution. 


Imagining me 
a vengeful spirit 
stripped of 
the fetters of fl esh, 
paying evil in kind. 44 


Neither Suga nor Fumiko merely imagined vengeance from the grave: 
they expressed their fantasies in words, in texts that would certainly be 
read by some among the ‘evildoers’ they had in their sights. Was this a 
way of menacing their enemies by hinting that not even death would 
stop them? Fumiko often indicated that a desire for revenge had 
been one of her motives for deciding to carry out assassinations and 
rise up in rebellion. In her autobiography she gave two reasons for 
drawing back at the last moment when about to commit suicide in 



78 Engagements with death 

Korea at the age of 12 or 13. She had lived there for six years with her 
paternal grandmother and aunt who were wealthy colonists. 45 Apart 
from the fact that she was suddenly struck by the tranquillity and 
beauty of nature, which she contrasted with the ‘cruel, unfeeling’ 
human world, the other reason she did not throw herself into the 
river was her desire for revenge: 

Thinking in this way, I’d already decided, ‘I won’t die. Yes, together 
with people made to suffer like me, I must avenge myself on those 
responsible for our suffering. That’s right. I won ’t die! And I settled 
back onto the rivsrbank again, and threw away one by one the 
stones in my sleeves and fastened [in the slip tied] around my waist. 

That pitiable young girl decided to die, and almost did. How 
dreadful and unna tural to seek relief in death at an age when she 
should have been reaching up like a young blade of grass; how 
dreadful, and how sad to continue living with that one desire, 
revenge. 

I stepped up to i he threshold of the realm of death, but suddenly 
turned back. Then, I returned to the home of my aunt, a hell in this 
world. Having returned, one gleam of hope shone within me, a 
gleam melancholy and dark. But then I had the strength to 
endure any amount of suffering. 

I was no longer a child - more like a little demon with a thorn 
lodged in her. 46 

Fumiko indicated that she still had that ‘thorn lodged in her’ many 
years later when penr ing the memoirs that were largely an indictment 
of her family. 

On 15 July 1925 she wrote two poems that suggest her desire for a 
very personal sort of revenge, directed at the family in Korea who had 
tormented her. Both tanka have an ‘I’ll show them!’ theme: 

Memories of 

being under Aunt’s care 

in Korea - 

till of a sudden I 

yearn for fame. 

At times 

I wanted to be a woman of 
renown, 

jast so I could say 
‘Look at me!’ 47 



Kaneko Fumiko: ‘The will to die’ 79 


Fumiko could have meant either ‘notoriety’ or ‘fame/renown’; either 
way there is no doubt that she wanted her aunt’s family to know 
about her situation and be shamed. Assuming that this was because 
they ‘had made her like that’ is consistent with her accounts of mis- 
treatment by her family, particularly in Korea, which she said had 
played a large part in leading her to rebel. At this time Fumiko was 
well on the way to ‘notoriety’ as the poems were written just two 
days before she was indicted for high treason. 

One difference between Suga’s stated desire for vengeance and 
Fumiko’s is that while the former wanted to avenge herself on indivi- 
dual prosecutors, and politicians, the latter was more class-oriented: 
she may have mentioned her relatives in Korea in this connection, 
but it was not only her own suffering she wanted to avenge; her 
sights were set on the ruling class as a whole. (She said she once 
planned to throw a bomb into the midst of the Diet, for example.) 
Later in her memoirs, she explained that she had developed years 
before an empathy for others who were exploited and oppressed, 
including colonized Koreans. In short, while Suga said she wanted 
to avenge specific political evils like the suppression of socialists, 
Fumiko indicated that she sought revenge for social evils like discrimi- 
nation based on wealth, nationality or birth. Fumiko had been an 
unregistered child, and as such had not officially existed so had not 
been readily accepted into schools. 48 

Yet, like Suga, whose desire for vengeance was directed at those 
responsible for the repression of comrades, Fumiko did write one 
poem that was explicitly about avenging the murders of political 
friends: 


Sadly 

I recall the vow 

I made 

to the spirits of departed friends. 

It’s September 1st! 49 

There is little doubt that Fumiko meant an oath of vengeance, for 
1 September 1923 was the day of the Great Kanto Earthquake. She 
was obviously referring to a vow made (in prison) to murdered 
Korean or Japanese comrades, most probably some of the socialists 
killed by military or civilian police during the period of martial law 
after the earthquake. 50 The ‘departed friends’ might even have been 
the anarchist couple, ltd Noe and Osugi Sakae, the former a well- 
known anarcho-feminist publicist, the latter the leading anarchist 



80 Engagements with death 


theorist of the day. Fumiko wrote a poem on 16 September 1925 about 
reading Osugi’s autobiography in prison, which was one of the few she 
dated: on that day two years before Osugi and Ito had been arrested by 
military police and later murdered. Thus, the poem written two weeks 
earlier on ‘September 1st’ about the ‘departed friends’ to be avenged 
could well have been about them. While in this poem Fumiko might 
have been bemoaning the fact that she had been unable to carry out 
her vow, her many references to vengeance in this life or the next 
must have been meant to demonstrate how much of a threat she was 
either to society in general or specifically to those in power. 


In earnest 

about hurling 

dynamite, 

over the floor 

s/he threw cold tea. 51 


This poem suggests a romanticization of political heroism amongst 
Fumiko’s peers. It conjures up a picture of a radical activist with 
romantic notions of performing a great act and, according to Japanese 
popular traditions of heroic action, probably dying in the act. Fumiko 
must have been talking of someone amongst her own set of friends. 
The vision of heroism that she and her nihilist comrades shared, how- 
ever, differed from trat of Meiji socialists somewhat because not so 
closely bound up with altruistic selflessness, idealism and grand 
causes. The differences, in fact, in Suga’s and Fumiko’s views of 
action, political heroes and causes are differences we would expect 
between a (collectivis tic) anarchist and (egoistic) nihilist. 

It should be acknowledged that Fumiko was capable of making a 
remark in her prisor memoirs like ‘Ah, how I want to . . . fight to 
the extent of sacrificing [gisei] my life for our pitiable class’. 52 But 
this notwithstanding she was far from consistent in her acceptance 
of the ideal of self-sacrifice as part of her construction of heroic 
action and death; actually, she was often scathing about the notion 
of sacrifice for a grand cause. In one early testimony she explained 
why she had been attracted to Pak (more than a year before their 
arrests). It was because they shared the same ideas and approach to 
political action. She had seen him as the sort of person who would 
‘act on his ego, and stake his life for the Movement’, 53 which was 



Kaneko Fumiko: ‘The will to die’ 81 


partly a reference to jiga no shucho (‘self-’ or ‘ego-assertion’). What is 
significant is her emphasis on self-sacrifice for a ‘class’ or a ‘movement’ 
(the Korean Independence Movement), but for ‘egoistic’ motives. She 
might have mentioned class here, suggesting a socialist utopian vision 
of the future, but Fumiko also insisted that she did not have a ‘far- 
distant, idealistic purpose’: she did not believe in a future ideal society 
based on the ‘well-being’ of all people. 54 And someone who did not 
believe in utopianism would hardly see her own death as a noble con- 
tribution to such a cause. Fumiko may have dreamed of a heroic 
death, whether on the scaffold or if ever released into society again, 
but willing martyrdom for a cause did not seem to be a consistent 
part of that dream. The self-denial it implied was doubtless out of 
place in her construction of herself as a dangerous, amoral, egoistic 
nihilist. Stirner meant by ego-assertion the opposite of self-‘denial’ 
for any cause but one’s own. Similarly, Fumiko said in an early 
court testimony that part of the reason for her earlier abandonment 
of socialism and then anarchism, was her disillusionment with roman- 
tic views of the masses. 55 Part of her scepticism about socialist (includ- 
ing anarchist) idealism was that she had come to see the farmers and 
workers as too passive - ‘stupid’ in their too-ready acceptance of their 
‘chains’. There is no sign here of an altruistic notion of sacrifice for the 
(noble) masses. This ‘nihilist’ was aware of the contradiction inherent 
in her wanting to sacrifice herself for a class or an ideal, even if some- 
times she lost sight of it. 

But did she want to sacrifice herself for Pak? One can see already the 
need to question the remarks by her lawyer about her sacrificing her- 
self for Pak and for Korea. In January 1924 she had pointed out that 
she sympathized with the goal of independence for Korea, and was 
certainly not ‘prejudiced’ against Koreans; yet she did not have any 
particular ‘esteem’ for them either, and had not decided to co-operate 
politically and live with Pak out of mere sympathy. 56 She and he 
shared the same ideas, as well as a similar vision of a ‘task’ in life, a 
task that connected with concrete and immediate action. In the context 
of the nature of her ‘task’ Fumiko also said: ‘I am not living for the 
sake of other people. Must I not earn my own true satisfaction and 
freedom? I must do this myself.’ A little further on she wrote about 
herself and her nihilist friend, Niiyama Hatsuyo: 

Even though neither of us "had ideals regarding society, we both 

thought about having something we could call our own true task. 

It wasn’t that we felt it had to be fulfilled. We merely thought it 

would be enough if we could look upon it as our true task. 57 



82 Engagements with death 

Fumiko’s comments about her task in life are quite ‘egoistic’: she 
emphasized living for the moment and for herself, rejecting ideals con- 
nected with society and finding her own task. She also stated that the 
task need not be fulfilled, suggesting that the action - Act-in-itself - 
was important. 

Toward the end of her autobiography, Fumiko spoke of the sort of 
obstacles that would have prevented her from joining forces with Pak. 
Significantly, she said that if he had been active in the Korean Inde- 
pendence Movement, she would not have co-operated with him politi- 
cally nor lived with him. Narrating the circumstances of her rather 
lame ‘proposal’ to Fak, Fumiko said she had first ascertained that 
he was not prejudiced against ordinary Japanese people, and then 
had continued: 

Well then, there’s something else I want to ask you. Aren’t you in 
the Korean People’s Movement? I was in Korea a long time and 
feel as if I can understand somehow the feelings of people active 
in the Movement But however you look at it. I’m not Korean 
and not oppressed by Japan in the same way as Koreans, so I 
don’t feel I want to work together with someone active in the Inde- 
pendence Movement. Therefore, if you are an Independence Move- 
ment activist, I won’t be able to join you though it’s regrettable. 58 

Certainly by the time she was writings her memoirs, Fumiko did not 
envisage herself work ing toward the goal of Korean independence. 

The remarks of her lawyer and the way she has been represented in 
historical sources notwithstanding, Fumiko did not represent her poli- 
tical stand as a sacrifice for Korea or for Pak. Quite unlike Suga, in her 
remarks about him and Korean liberation there is not even a hint that 
she saw herself (or wanted to be seen) as a martyr for the Korean or 
any other external cause. She probably wrote this account of the 
beginning of her life with Pak in the first part of her prison term, 
but if her attitude toward self-sacrifice underwent a change later, 
there is no sign of it. In fact, in the untitled statement written at the 
end of 1925, Fumiko expounded Stirner’s ideas as follows: 

People cannot love others; it is their own selves they love. All people 
are egoists. But one’s self is not fixed. The ego is flexible. Sometimes 
they extend [that love] to the nation or to humanity, and sometimes 
you see a conflict within the individual between the self and others, 
so social cohesion amongst people is sustained just by this elasticity 
of the ego. . . . So what is virtue? Virtue in human society is the 
situation of co-existence and co-prosperity. However, the inevitabil- 



Kaneko Fumiko: ‘The will to die’ 83 


ity of the survival of the fittest violates this law of existence; it pre- 
vents it. So here I proclaim: ‘Rise up and rebel! Rebel! Rebel against 
all power! It is participating in the checking of power that is virtue. 
That is, rebelling against the oppressors is a virtue for those 
oppressed, a virtue for all humanity. 59 

Stirner was implacably hostile to notions of selflessness and martyr- 
dom, and derided conceptions of ‘the Good Cause’ (whether God’s, 
humanity’s, justice’s, my people’s, my fatherland’s, etc.). He also 
wrote about one’s task, but rejected the notion of a ‘calling’, implying 
a destiny controlled by something/one other than oneself; for him, it 
was not one’s ‘task’ but one’s Act. On ‘love’, he said, ‘I love . . . every- 
one. But I love them with the consciousness of egoism; I love them 
because love makes me happy, I love . . . because it pleases me. I 
know no “commandment of love”.’ 60 Moreover, there is no suggestion 
of sacrifice on behalf of others in this statement of Fumiko’s, but 
rather an equation of self-satisfaction, creation or assertion with rebel- 
lion. At most, one may be able to find in these comments a hint that 
Fumiko’s ‘egoistic’ quest was at times in conflict with the demands 
of love. 

In the declaration in the Supreme Court where she started by saying 
that she loved Pak and ended by stating once again her desire to die 
with him, Fumiko also said that this was despite his ‘faults, weak- 
nesses, and mistakes’. When she clarified her nihilism in the Supreme 
Court she first said, ‘I don’t know whether Pak negates life or not’; and 
then followed this with, ‘but I must affirm life, affirm everything, so I 
cannot accept the thinking that aims at the annihilation of humanity’. 
Here she even distanced herself from Pak philosophically. Distancing 
herself from him in terms of their shared political commitment or the 
penalty they should receive for their ‘treason’ was obviously the last 
thing she wanted; being true to her own. ideas was probably foremost 
in her mind, even if that meant criticizing his understanding of nihilist 
philosophy. Fumiko, in short, wanted to be as much or more a nihilist 
than Pak, which is why she made a point of relating how she had once 
told him that if he should ever be corrupted politically and collaborate 
with those in power, she would immediately renounce him. 61 

Yet in what was doubtless another symbolic action-statement, 
Fumiko and Pak registered their marriage in prison on 23 March 
1926, two days before being sentenced to death. If not partly a political 
statement against the imperialist state that condemned her ‘mal- 
content’ Korean partner and herself - one more way of shouting her 
defiance - one wonders why Fumiko had appeared in the Supreme 



84 Engagements with death 

Court on 26 February, the first day of the trial, in Korean dress. 
Setouchi Harumi simply states in her earlier full-length biography of 
Fumiko published in 1975 that Fumiko wore ceremonial Korean 
dress on this day, while in her biographical article published six 
years later in 1981 she refers to it as a bridal dress. The symbolism 
of the action would be even more interesting if the latter were both 
true and deliberate (that is, if Fumiko had specifically asked comrades 
to get her a wedding dress), but I suspect that neither was the case. 
Kim (a Korean and Pak’s biographer) simply says that Pak wore 
ceremonial Korean dress and Fumiko white Korean clothing. Fumiko 
herself, moreover, wrote a poem (which is included below) where she 
said only that the dress was Korean and white. 62 In any event, such 
acts are, no doubt, partly why Fuse and others have described her 
death as a sacrifice for her husband and his country. But there is 
more than one way to read such actions. Perhaps she wanted mainly 
to show her disgust with the imperialistic Japanese state by rejecting 
Japanese nationality It is difficult to imagine Fumiko affirming any 
nationality when she had already insisted that the struggle for 
Korean independence was not hers. Moreover, the fact that she and 
Pak were legally married immediately before being sentenced for 
high treason may have also been meant to underscore the obvious 
irony in the fact that the Japanese state had united them legally in 
life before uniting them ‘legally’ in death. Whatever Fumiko meant 
by such apparently symbolic acts, the picture of the ‘noble, self- 
sacrificing wife’ is more the all too obviously gendered, imaginative 
construct of others. 

On various occasions Fumiko threatened that, whatever the court 
decided, she would die with Pak. (Clearly, she was afraid that only 
he would be executed because only he, really, was guilty of the 
charges.) In the Supreme Court she cried, ‘I’ll never let you die 
alone!’; and near the close of her memoir, she claimed that four 
years earlier she hac vowed: ‘I’ll always be with you. When you’re 
ill, I’ll never let you suffer. If you die, let’s die together. 63 We’ll live 
together, and die together.’ But dying with Pak is not synonymous 
with dying for him, and in any event this statement about an early 
desire to die with Pak was written when they were facing the death 
penalty. Clearly, Fumiko was a passionate woman (at least when in 
prison), and much lias been made of these sorts of statements in 
works about her. But because this was written at a time when she 
was probably worried she would not be executed with Pak, it is not 
reliable evidence for an intention four or more years before to kill her- 
self if he died. It is quite possible that there was a political death-pact 



Kaneko Fumiko: ‘The will to die’ 85 


between Fumiko and Pak, made either before or during their im- 
prisonment; but even if there had not been, Fumiko’s romanticization 
of death with Pak is reflected by her repeated challenges to judges to 
sentence them both to death, and by her insistence that, whatever 
happened, he would not die alone. 

Even if we do assume, firstly, that Fumiko took her own life and, 
secondly, that she was carrying out her intention to die with Pak 
(thinking that he would die or kill himself in prison), we do not 
have to read her action as a sacrifice for him. It might not have 
been for anything or anyone, in fact, un less for herself. Her statement 
cited above about her own physical negation as derived from her resis- 
tance/affirmation of life does not suggest that selflessness was an essen- 
tial part of the meaning she ascribed to her death. Perhaps she did 
choose death for the second time, as her biographer Setouchi says, 
in one final act of rebellion. 64 This would certainly be consistent 
with her nihilism: ‘Am I to be disposed of according to your 
whims?’ And if she did annihilate herself, she would have wanted it 
to be seen by friends and foes as an affirmation of life, an assertion 
of her Self and will. For Fumiko, taking her own life may well have 
been the ultimate symbolic action-statement, a symbol of her power. 


Alone 

feeling sorry for myself, 
rubbing 

the numbness in a 
trifling pen-callous. 65 


Like Suga, Fumiko insisted that she dud not like pretence; therefore, 
when facing death directly she wanted to set the record straight in 
her testimonies. Also, however, throughout her imprisonment she 
wrote poems for herself (some of which were published by her com- 
rades while she was still alive) that, in very ‘Zen’ style, perhaps, 
expressed the emotions of the moment very frankly. As with Suga, 
when one looks at her poetry in particular, one gets glimpses of a 
different, possibly contradictory but certainly more complex picture 
than that derived from her testimonies and memoirs. The latter were 
more clearly statements of defiance to self-empowering ends because 
intended for an audience of judges. In her poems, on the other 
hand, she spoke of things on which she was otherwise silent. Firstly, 




86 Engagements with death 


in them she was capable of a cynical sort of humour that was often 
directed at herself o r her situation, as both the poem above and the 
earlier one about revolutionary zeal indicate. There are signs in 
them of an amusement at the absurdities or bitter ironies of the 
world. But Fumiko’s tanka express a broad range of emotions, includ- 
ing self-mockery, pessimism, grief and depression, anger and frustra- 
tion, rebellion, love and hatred, and distraction almost to the point 
of ‘madness’. 

Amidst the varied and conflicting emotions expressed in Fumiko’s 
poetry, however, fear is not as strongly in evidence as in some of 
Suga’s poems. Possibly, this was the only emotion to which Fumiko 
would not admit - even to herself. One poem might be taken to 
suggest it: 

Tiny nameless weeds 
entwined about my fingers. 

Abruptly I 

pull them up, ‘I want to live!’ 
they cry faintly. 66 

The use of ‘nameless weeds’ is consistent with Fumiko’s view of her- 
self: for a long time she had had ‘no name’, was left untended and 
grew wild, at least in the sense that she had no-one to care for her. 
She wrote another poem about pulling out weeds in the prison 
garden, and there she strengthens the probability that the weeds 
were an allegory for herself: ‘uprooted, trodden on, writhing in 
pain - their forms both hateful and pitiful.’ On another occasion, 
she referred to herself as ‘ugly’ (though not physically) rather than 
‘hateful’: 


Forlorn 

I gaze at my ugly heart, 
my body 

wrapped in a pure-white 
Korean dress. 67 

All this strengthens the likelihood that in the poem about pulling out 
weeds, it was the will to live in all living things - including herself- that 
she was expressing, however ‘faintly’, and not fear of death at all! 
(This, too, could be taken as an indication of her ultimate, positive- 
nihilist affirmation of life.) Similarly, she wrote more than one poem 
apparently mourning the number of people (comrades?) who had 
died in prison, though this also does not necessarily indicate a fear 
of sharing the same fate. One of those poems was: 



Kaneko Fumiko: ‘The will to die’ 87 


Is it the souls 
of those perished under 
the guillotine, 
that vermilion of 
the garden azaleas? 68 

She must have been saddened to think of others before her who had 
spent time in this garden and never regained their freedom. 

Fumiko was willing to reveal her sadness and fits of depression in 
her tanka, and also her self-doubt or derision. In the poem in which 
she refers to her white dress, presumably a symbol of purity, she 
implies that her (red) heart is polluted She uses word plays on the 
colours of red and white again in the one about ‘red azaleas’, and 
yet again refers to her picking such a flower in the flickering sunshine 
in the prison garden and seeing it turn into ‘pure-white cremated 
bones’. While white generally represents purity in Japanese folk reli- 
gion and red can symbolize pollution, in Buddhism red is the colour 
of desire that brings about retribution. (Thus, prisoners wore red uni- 
forms.) But this final poem might have been written when Fumiko was 
in a less sombre mood, and probably needs no further comment 
beyond stating the obvious that at that moment she found it hard to 
treat something - or someone - serious! y. If not herself, had she been 
sporting with someone else? 

I ask my heart 
if I am jesting o r 
in earnest, 

and it doesn’t answer - 
it just grins broadly. 69 



5 Commentary: discourse on death 
and beyond 


Thus far in my interpretation of how Suga and Fumiko presented 
themselves in relation to death, I have commented only on some con- 
textual issues. In order to make sense of the sense they made to those 
they were conversing with, however, an understanding of their respec- 
tive discursive contexts is necessary. This first requires a consideration 
of the general ‘discourse on death and beyond’ in which they partici- 
pated. In this chapter, therefore, my focus is on the more abstract dis- 
cursive context: the religions, philosophies, ontologies that might have 
influenced Suga’s and Fumiko’s constructions of death. After some 
preliminary remarks on thanatology, particularly as it relates to 
Japan, Tenrikyo and Christianity will claim my attention. This will 
be followed by a discussion of Meiji and Taisho ‘physics’ and meta- 
physics, much of the latter part of which will concentrate on Fumiko’s 
philosophical influences. Finally, five modes of symbolic ‘immortality’ 
said to be universal , 1 will be utilized as a framework for interpreting 
further the ways ir which, when facing death, Suga and Fumiko 
each expressed a sense of continuity with life. This interpretation of 
the more abstract, ‘grey’ areas of the subjects’ engagements with 
death will also hinge upon of the centrality of the issue of power. 
Even the literal sense of ‘immortality’ implies that one lives on, that 
mortality is negated: death, in short, has lost its ‘sting’. And when 
the context of such a symbolization of immortality is a courtroom 
or cell where one is being threatened with death, it can also be seen 
to be empowering not just in relation to the ‘last enemy’ of death, 
but also other opponents. 

We have already seen how the religious attitudes of both women 
would best be described as ambivalent. Yet their occasional sugges- 
tions of a ‘life’ aftei death represented a defensive-offensive mechan- 
ism with more subtlety than notions of heavenly, paradisial or 
nirvanic rewards. When they voiced a ‘pessimism’ about this world 



Commentary: discourse on death and beyond 89 

or life, it did not hinge on an ‘other-worldly’ longing for the next. If, at 
times, they denied the value of life, it was to demonstrate that they had 
come to terms with quitting it. We could not assume from this that 
either was an unusually ‘pessimistic’ person, but would expect to 
find that this apparently ‘ontological’ negativism had much to do 
with her immediate political context. Perhaps scholars today are less 
inclined to reduce the question of the apparent pessimism of indi- 
viduals like Suga or Fumiko to individual psychology or ‘Oriental’ 
(Buddhist) metaphysical tendencies, however, since a post-idealist, 
post-‘Orientalist’ approach to an individual’s construction of death 
requires a recognition that it could not have had only metaphysical 
influences, nor been due to a static essentialist identity, whether cul- 
tural or psychological. What is more to the point is the manner in 
which these ‘traitors’ contributed to a discourse on the quality of life 
possible in their world - broadcasting their apparent ‘ontological 
pessimism’ while in the custody of the state. 

There is too large a body of thanatological literature available in 
English for it to be treated in depth here. I might simply note, there- 
fore, that much of it is informed by a binary logic of East/West differ- 
ence and thus refers holistically to a denial of death widespread in that 
cultural monolith, the ‘West’. Its being seen as a ‘taboo’ subject asso- 
ciated with fear, anxiety, pessimism, obsession and even obscenity 2 is 
commonly traced back to Judeo-Christian views of death as an ‘evil’ 
or to Pauline notions of it as an ‘enemy’. But Philippe Aries in 
The Hour of Our Death argues that death-denial has largely been a 
twentieth-century phenomenon in Europe and North America, a con- 
sequence, in fact, of death’s gradual individualization. 3 In their psycho- 
biographical work, Six Lives, Six Deaths: Portraits from Modern 
Japan , Robert Lifton and co-authors note this thesis when positing 
an apparent increase in individualism and thus also death-denial in 
Japan in modern times, their assumption being that the Japanese did 
not hitherto suffer from this ‘Western’ death-denial. 4 

Early representations of the Orient as the ‘other’, as fundamentally 
different and inferior, doubtless played a large part in bringing about 
the assertions of Eastern superiority that one now encounters in some 
works on Eastern philosophy or thanatology. It has been common 
for Asianist scholars to counterpose a general Eastern monism to a 
general Western dualism; or contrast the approach to life and death 
in the West with an ‘Eastern’ view of an ‘inclusive wholeness of reality’ 
where life and death are not seen as mutually exclusive or in contra- 
diction, and neither is denied. 5 The argument for Western dualism - 
said to involve an extreme dichotomy between life, which is good, 



90 Engagements wi'h death 

and death, which is aot - suffers from the same indefensible general- 
izations found in related arguments for Eastern monism. While the 
hierarchy of value i; reversed, these are characterized by the same 
binary logic their authors are engaged in criticizing, for they represent 
East and West as po es in exclusive opposition. 6 We find subtle asser- 
tions of this Eastern metaphysical or moral superiority in works that 
seek in holistic fashion to define Japan’s ‘ essential ’ philosophical or 
ontological assumptions, and approach to life and death. Internal divi- 
sions of class, gender generation, area and ethnicity are largely ignored 
in such works. Hence:, the Japanese are said to be inherently optimistic 
and ‘this-worldly’; their approach to death is largely group-oriented; 
they lack any deep ‘metaphysical angst about the meaning of life; 
and tend not to deny death’. 7 

Comparatively speaking, Japanese religions may not have placed so 
strong an emphasis on post-mortem judgement and punishment. (The 
thematic content of medieval No plays at least suggests an attempt to 
soften such an emphasis.) It is therefore possible that the fear of what 
awaits one after dea :h may have been less than in Islamic or Judeo- 
Christian cultures. In popular streams of Japanese Buddhism like 
the True Pure Land, even the evil (‘being saved in one’s sinfulness as 
it is’) have long been eligible for salvation. 8 From early medieval 
times there were various forms of rokudo bakku popularized - 
means by which one might easily escape from karmic retribution in 
the six samsaric existences. 9 Now there was less reason to fear what 
one might become al'ter death: a hungry ghost, perhaps, or an other- 
wise vengeful or malevolent spirit. 10 Thus, the argument of Lifton 
and co-authors for less death-denial in Japan makes some sense 
when related to fewer reasons for fear specifically of post-mortem 
experience. But this is surely only one reason amongst many for a 
fear and denial of death. 

In any case, pursuing an ‘Orientalist’ quest to situate Fumiko’s or 
Suga’s representations of death and beyond only within an allegedly 
pure Eastern or Western cultural tradition, would mean ‘chasing 
one’s tail’. Particularly in the case of the very ‘intertextual’ Fumiko 
it would be difficult to ascertain which religio-philosophical influences 
to focus upon, because among the European philosophers who inter- 
ested her were some whose thought systems were closely related to 
Asian religio-philoso ohical doctrines. One could easily assume an influ- 
ence from Buddhism when it had actually come from Nietzsche, or vice 
versa. If, moreover, we wanted to argue that Suga and Fumiko were in 
their ‘Japaneseness’ this-worldly and life-affirming, ultimately denying 
neither life nor death because they adhered to traditional ontological 



Commentary: discourse on death and beyond 91 


views, we would be forced to overlook the fact that the ‘culture’ in 
which each woman produced and was herself produced was as much 
political as religio-philosophical. 


‘RELIGIOUS’ ENCOUNTERS 

From 1903 in Osaka, Suga contributed articles to a Protestant maga- 
zine, Kirisutokyo Sekai (The World of Christianity), though simulta- 
neously she also published in a Tenrikyo magazine, Michi no Tomo 
(Friend of the Way). By the time she was baptized a Protestant on 
8 November 1903 she had also been active for six months in the 
Osaka section of the Nihon Kirishitan Fujin Kyofukai (Japanese 
Christian Society of Women for Moral Reform). 11 The society was 
strongly influenced by North American temperance unions. 12 Suga 
became a salaried official of the organization in December, and also 
became involved in Christian charitable works. Continuing to publish 
in the Tenrikyo journal until early 1905, she contributed more to it, 
however, than to Kirisutokyo Sekai. This was probably more related 
to publishing opportunities (since her literary patron then was the 
editor of Michi no T omo) than to her religious identity or commitment. 
There were, in any case, no notable differences in the religious tone or 
content of her articles, whichever magazine she published in. 

Tenrikyo was one of the first of the so-called ‘new’ Japanese reli- 
gions which seem to have arisen in three main waves, roughly between 
1800 and 1860, during the 1920s and also after the Second World 
War. 13 It was also one of the Meiji sects that ultimately had little 
choice but to take upon itself the not very meaningful appellation of 
‘Shinto’. Tenrikyo was recreated, in other words, much in the 
manner of State Shinto in that disparate elements in it that were tradi- 
tional were lumped together under the umbrella category of ‘sect 
Shinto’, while elements that were new were simply redefined as ‘tradi- 
tional’. But, as to what Tenrikyo actually was, firstly, it was not unlike 
other ‘new’ religions in seeing nature as sacred. According to one 
author: ‘To be harmoniously related to nature is one of the highest 
aims in Japanese religious life.’ 14 Other than that the ‘new religions’ 
commonly had millenarian tendencies; they are often said to have 
been ‘this-worldly’ in the sense that they looked forward to a regenera- 
tion that would bring about a better life in this world rather than the 
next. Their this-worldliness is said to have been even stronger than in 
the traditional religions because now a material sort of paradise, not 
just spiritual salvation, was possible in this world. 15 This is a logical 



92 Engagements with death 

development both from earlier Buddhist millenarianism focused on the 
future Buddha, Mircku, who would ‘renew’ the world, and from the 
idea in some streams of Japanese Buddhism that enlightenment is pos- 
sible in this life, though one could hardly ignore other non-Japanese 
influences upon either this nature-centred ‘Romanticism’ or modem 
millenarianism. 

Concerning this-worldly ‘paradises’, Suga’s later conception of a 
future socialist society had something in common with the belief in 
salvation in this world of the new Japanese religions: 

In the doctrine of Tenri-kyo a humanism centered on people 
and this world, and the equality of man and woman is clearly 
taught ... a new quality absent in feudal religion, the insistent 
call for the material and spiritual relief of the masses, became 
Tenri-kyo’s unique characteristic. At this time the hope of the 
masses was for world renewal such that by the virtue of the 
kami, the world would instantly change and an ideal world would 
materialize. 16 

Suga’s progression from Christianity and Tenrikyo to socialism and 
anarchism was not particularly unusual, moreover, for the new Japa- 
nese religions might have preached salvation in this world but tended 
not to involve themselves with practical social reform. Tenrikyo’s 
founder, Nakayama Miki (1798-1887), one of the female shamanistic 
leaders of the new religions, bitterly criticized the arbitrary rule of the 
government, yet her panacea for social ills was for people to ‘take care 
of their hearts, reform themselves, and lead moral lives . . . [to] bring 
about an ideal world’ 17 If it seems that this approach would hold little 
attraction for Meiji socialists, I might note that one of the defendants 
in the Meiji Treason Case defended by Hiraide Shu was said by him to 
have confused Buddhist millenarianism with Utopian socialism: 
Takagi Kenmei spoke of ‘a future heaven-on-earth of perfect equality’, 
and recognized the existence of no authority but that of Amida 
Buddha. 18 Jay Rubin observes that it was this that made him a danger- 
ous anti-imperial ‘anarchist’ in the eyes of his accusers! A similar logic 
was involved in the repression in Meiji and later of new religions (like 
Omotokyo) for worshipping their own principal god/s even as the true 
founders of Japan - in competition, that is, with the official emperor- 
system mythology that accorded such a feat to the emperor’s own 
ancestral gods. 

If adherents and accusers alike could confuse religious millenarian- 
ism with political radicalism, it was partly because both were part of 
the same broad reaction against ‘modernization’ after the Meiji 



Commentary: discourse on death and beyond 93 

Restoration of 1868. There was ‘a marked strand of millenarianism’ in 
many new religions because they were, broadly speaking, attempts to 
make sense of and cope with a rapidly changing material and 
ideational environment. 19 In modern times within Japan and without, 
there have been many who, doubting; the benefits of capitalization, 
advocated a return to ‘Nature’, implying at least a desire to return 
to simpler forms of social organization, if not a yearning for a past 
Golden Age. 

In Suga’s case, then, there were various aspects of Tenrikyo that 
might have attracted her by 1903 - its emphasis on sexual equality, 
its (female) founder’s critique of modern society, its millenarian ten- 
dencies - even if her baptism in November suggests that her commit- 
ment to Christianity soon became greater. Yet a commitment to one 
does not necessarily rule out a continuing interest in the other. And 
if it seems strange that she could be so eclectic in her early connections 
with different religions, it might be emphasized that there is an internal 
consistency in the religions that, certainly by 1910-1911, constituted 
her background. All three - if we can assume that her family religion 
was True Pure Land Buddhist, and add it to Christianity and Tenrikyo 
- had monotheistic tendencies. Indeed, authors have often speculated 
about a possible Christian influence upon the other two. Since early 
medieval times, Pure Land Buddhism has been quite monotheistic in 
its focus upon a heaven-like Western Paradise and ‘saviour’-figure of 
Amida Buddha. 20 On the other hand, Tenrikyo’s saviour and principal 
kami was Tenri-O-no-Mikoto or Tenri Daijin. 21 This was an absolute, 
parental (apparently asexual) God in ‘heaven’, an ‘omnipotent’ creator 
of humankind who taught universal love to its children. 22 

In addition, both Suga and Fumiko had encounters with the religion 
that not so long before, in Tokugawa, had been known as the ‘evil 
creed from South Barbary’. In Suga’s case, however, it was somewhat 
more than a passing acquaintance. She was a practising Christian for 
at least a few years, and if there was one particular area in which the 
religion might have continued to have an influence on the way she 
represented death, it was her tendency to idealize self-sacrifice and 
martyrdom. She was not alone in this, however; one of those executed 
in 1911, Oishi Seinosuke, had expressed the expectation years earlier 
that revolutionary leaders would have to shoulder ‘the heavy cross 
of suffering’. 23 But there were various reasons for the wide popularity 
of Christianity among intellectuals after the Meiji Restoration. Some 
authors emphasize the attraction of certain individualistic ideals asso- 
ciated with it: 



94 Engagements with death 

Christianity and Christian missionaries were the most important 
influences on the formation of the new, internalized ideal of indi- 
vidualism; it was the Christian doctrine of the uniqueness of the 
individual’s inner life that indirectly inspired the development of a 
new ideal of private self-cultivation. 24 

While there had been a concern with ‘private self-cultivation’ in Con- 
fucianism, it had been more the individual’s role and duties in society 
that had been emphas ized. Now moral conscience was seen to be more 
a private concern. Christianity was also seen as the basis of Western 
civilization, a perception that owed much to the efforts of missionaries 
who taught that relig on and science were natural allies in the West. 25 
Thus, in early Meiji, amongst those in pursuit of bunmei kaika (‘civil- 
ization and enlightenment’) for their new nation of Japan, some had 
encouraged Christian conversions. 

Christianity came to be associated with social equality and reform in 
the minds of its advocates and critics partly because of the doctrinal 
emphasis on spiritual equality, since all were ‘equal before God’; 
and also because of Christian charitable works and campaigns against 
‘uncivilized’ Eastern practices like concubinage. Once the ban on 
Catholicism was lifted in 1873 and all sects were free to proselytize, 
Christianity soon came to be both a ‘challenge and model’ for Bud- 
dhist sects. Among ether reasons for the early Meiji social-political 
reaction against Buddhism (‘political’ because the supposedly indigen- 
ous ‘Shinto’ was intended to displace such ‘foreign’ religions), it had 
long been common for Japanese critics of Buddhism to inveigh against 
its priests’ moral ‘decadence’ and lack of social conscience. 26 Pre-Meiji 
literature abounds with cynicism about the laxity of Buddhist priests 
who cared little for the traditional disciplines and other moral pro- 
hibitions. The famous Genroku satirist, Saikaku, narrated many tales 
like one about a man accused of theft because he was a ‘man of 
religion’. 27 

By Suga’s time, there was co-operation between socialists and Chris- 
tians in various areas A popular maxim of the day even expressed the 
idea that socialism was ‘materialistic Christianity’ and Christianity 
‘spiritualistic socialism’. 28 Suga first encountered socialists in April 
1903 through the anti-prostitution cause, her interest in socialism 
deepened, and by 1906 she had come to see Christian welfare activities 
as mere palliatives: only socialism could ‘eradicate the causes of social 
misery’. 29 By 1906 spiritualistic socialism’ was beginning to lose 
its appeal for her. The fact that many Christian organizations had 



Commentary: discourse on death and beyond 95 

supported Japan’s involvement in the Russo-Japanese War must also 
have been cause for concern. 

Yet it was not only Suga who had once found Christianity attrac- 
tive: Fumiko wrote in her prison memoirs that she had experienced 
a dramatic ‘conversion’ to Christianity during a Salvation Army 
prayer meeting in Tokyo late in 1920. 30 She was at that time penniless 
and in despair, so had gone to ask a young friend, Saito Otomatsu, in 
the Salvation Army for help. 31 This friend (referred to in Fumiko’s 
memoirs as ‘ltd’) was called as a witness during her trial, and he cor- 
roborated this part of her account. He said that he had tried ‘to give 
her proper guidance and get her to join the Faith’, but after she tore 
up the Bible he had given her he decided his efforts at spiritual 
guidance had been to no avail. Fumiko also said that she soon came 
to be critical of what she saw as Christian hypocrisy: no earthly or 
material ‘reward’ had come to her through her hard work (domestic 
labour) for the Salvation Army, so she became disillusioned with 
Christian professions of love, even if she had never believed in 
‘miracles’. She came to wonder whether Christianity was not just a 
‘narcotic’ with which ‘foreign demons bewitched people’s souls’, for 
Christians ‘manipulated people’s good faith and affections’. When 
Fumiko spoke of the Christian denial of love, it was partly because 
her friend had rejected her sexually out of fear of losing his ‘purity’. 
(According to Saito, he did lose it with her, and had deeply repented 
this one moral lapse ever since.) Thus sh e became critical of Christians’ 
denial of natural human instincts. The influence of Christianity upon 
her ideas was by her own account short-lived and not very profound. 

Concerning the subjects’ religious encounters, then, late in their lives 
neither Fumiko nor Suga mentioned heaven or hell, and they did not 
express a hope for a Christian sort of after-life nor any fear of divine 
judgement. Suga in her last days did not once mention having faith in 
any sort of benevolent God, Buddha or ‘parent kami’ despite her 
broadly monotheistic background. Moreover, both indicated that 
they had embraced Christianity for reasons that had little to do with 
religious (metaphysical) doctrine. For Suga, an interest in social 
reform was doubtless not the only reason she went so far as to be bap- 
tized a Christian; among other things Christian sexual morality might 
have had an appeal for her. 32 Fumiko - writing years after the event 
about her disillusionment with various doctrines - suggested that she 
had been enticed by a promise of earthly ‘salvation’. Both might 
have misinterpreted Christian doctrine. Though it is not so clear in 
the case of Suga that an initial misunderstanding of Christian doc- 
trine ultimately led to disillusionment, her observation in 1906 that 



96 Engagements with death 


Christian activities would not lead to fundamental social change (after 
all) suggests it. 

Much more could be said, particularly about Suga’s relation to 
Christianity, but not in the context of her ‘engagements with death’. 
Perhaps before turning to ‘physics’ (evolutionary and socialist materi- 
alism) in Meiji and Taisho and to the Western metaphysics that 
attracted Fumiko, I might reiterate that the distance between religion 
and social or even socialist movements was not so great as one might 
assume. Socialist materialism was then still in its infancy. 


PHYSICS AND METAPHYSICS 

Beyond referring broadly to anarchism, Suga did not speak of specific 
political-philosophical influences upon her thinking. When in prison, it 
was only in the context of action-models that she mentioned revo- 
lutionary inspiration. Earlier, moreover, her interests had been more 
literary than philosophical. Nevertheless, for almost a decade Suga 
was a journalist and activist, and at least on the margins of the pro- 
gressive intelligentsia. Even if she had never read Herbert Spencer or 
Darwin, she must ha\e known of them. The importance she accorded 
positivism in her construction of death and beyond was not created 
ex nihilo. Certainly by 1910-1911, scientific materialism was a central 
part of her identity as; an anarchist. 

Fumiko claimed nihilistic inspiration mainly from Stirner, Nietzsche 
and Mikhail Artzibashev, though without saying much about how 
they influenced her. She said she was also a little acquainted with 
the ideas of Hegel, Bergson and Spencer. Social Darwinism of the 
Spencerian type came to play an important role in her thinking, 
and among the Western thinkers she mentioned, only Spencer had 
emphasized the ‘survival of the fittest’ ( yusho reppai or jakuniku kyo- 
shoku, literally, ‘the strong eat the weak’). Similarly, however, the 
eighteenth-century rebel scholar Ando Shoeki (whose works had 
been discovered by Fumiko’s time) spoke of how it was only after 
the sages came on the scene and human ‘invention’ overran nature 
that humans degenerated to the level of birds and beasts and the 
great started to ‘eat’ the small. 33 Fumiko often used such terminology, 
which was not necessarily an indication of having read Spencer (or 
Shoeki) but rather a reflection of the degree to which such ideas 
were still in currency in late Taisho. 

Spencer’s thought had been popular in Japan in educated circles 
since the keimo (‘enlightenment’) movement of the 1870s. For a time 



Commentary: disc ourse on death and beyond 97 

Tokyo Imperial University was known as the ‘University of Evolution- 
ism’ because of his influence; and its first professor of philosophy, 
Inoue Tetsujiro, went so far as to complain in 1880 that Spencer 
had become the ‘god of the time’. 34 Spencer, Darwin and Henry 
Buckle were read by some Japanese intellectuals as part of a reaction 
against arguments for a necessary relation between science or ‘civiliz- 
ation’ and Christianity. 35 Together with Rousseau and Mill, Spencer 
had also been part of the ‘ideological armoury’ of critics of the govern- 
ment when in the 1870s popular rights advocates enlisted his theories 
of egalitarianism in their struggle for representative government. 36 But 
even government leaders made use of Spencer’s ideas - his social Dar- 
winism came to form part of conceptual rationales for expansionism in 
the 1890s. While some applied only a Spencerian form of moderate 
social Darwinism to a theory of the evolutionary history of nation 
states, others, like Kato Hiroyuki (first president of Tokyo Imperial 
University,) began to use more ‘violently competitive rhetoric’. 37 
Thus, while Darwinism in Meiji was often linked with competition 
amongst individuals - the idea of fighting one’s rivals to ‘rise in the 
world’ ( risshin shusse) - by the last decade of the century and the 
Sino-Japanese War it was common for nationalists to phrase their 
arguments for Japanese expansion in terms of the ‘survival of the 
fittest’. 

Fumiko was among those who later took social Darwinism a step 
further, applying it to the individual’:;' struggle for existence against 
the state. Gino Piovesana writes that in the twentieth century shutaisei 
(lit. ‘subjectivity’; or selfhood/individuality) had often meant ‘the affir- 
mation of the self against the political and social reality’. 38 Ironically, 
self-assertion or advancement had earlier been inseparably connected 
in the minds of many with risshin (advancement) for the nation-state 
or family, but this change was a natural reaction against a modern 
state which was, to use Earl Kinmonth’s phraseology, ‘founded on 
denial of [the supposedly Western creed of] individualism’. 39 Spencer 
himself, however, had allowed the state no legitimate power beyond 
protecting the rights of the individual against the collectivity and pro- 
tecting the people against outside foreign enemies; if it was permitted 
to interfere more in social organization, society would be distorted and 

40 

regress. 

It is conceivable that the positivism expressed by Suga in her prison 
diary, about the soul’s not surviving death, was influenced by 
Spencer. 41 It has been said of Heimin Shinbun, the socialist paper 
first produced during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905, that its 
socialism was more social Darwinist than a ‘materialist critique of 



98 Engagements with death 

history’. 42 Presumab y, its contributors applied a social Darwinist 
rhetoric to the competitive struggle between nations or individuals 
rather than classes. Suga did read the paper at that time, but was prob- 
ably more influenced later by the socialist materialism of intimates like 
Osugi Sakae and Kotoku Shusui. With Fumiko, on the other hand, we 
can see how theories that placed so much emphasis on competition 
and the struggle to survive may have deepened her negativism about 
human society and life. Certainly, the ‘strong eat the weak’ idea was 
accorded a central place in her depiction of life generally as a battle. 
Yet she did not share Spencer’s faith in evolutionary human ‘progress’, 
and her remarks on life after death did not suggest a self-consciously 
positivistic approach. Spencer’s influence does not seem to have had 
any bearing on her representations of death, unless in the indirect 
sense of contributing to the pessimistic aspects of her construction 
of life. But we can certainly see how his ideas became part of her ‘ideo- 
logical armoury’ in her struggle against the emperor-system. 

It has already been noted that neither Suga’s nor Fumiko’s repre- 
sentations of death suggested a Christian eschatological influence. 
Indeed, if Fumiko was significantly influenced by Nietzsche, Stirner 
and Artzibashev, and at least interested in Hegel and Bergson, this 
should come as no surprise. Bergson was one of the ‘philosophers of 
life’, like Nietzsche, another for whom the assertion of the will was 
central. For him, as lor Stirner, free will meant a freedom for indivi- 
duals to develop their creativity independent of moral constraints. 
Bergson’s likely influence on Fumiko was more in the area of con- 
ceptions of action, however, and thus will be discussed in the next 
chapter. His views oa death could not have influenced her, because 
he expressed them only in works written after Fumiko had died. 43 
On the other hand, we cannot know whether Hegel’s ideas on im/ 
mortality had any impact on her. Like him, she rejected the existence 
of a personal God and the notion of personal immortality (eternal con- 
tinuity of personality), but so did Nietzsche, Stirner and Artzibashev. 
Beyond a vaguely similar emphasis on some sort of ‘real’ existence 
after death - since Hegel believed that the Spirit is reconciled with 
itself after death when the finite negates itself and passes over into 
the ‘other’, the infinite, to become real ‘living Being’ 44 - there is 
little indication that Fumiko’s approach to death could have been 
influenced by Hegel. 45 

Fumiko’s positive 'dew of the ego and her view of the will as entirely 
free narrows the field of her significant European influences to the 
philosophers she said had most inspired her. The first to consider, 
then, is one of the famous European ‘Buddhists’, an appellation that 



Commentary: discourse on death and beyond 99 

seems out of place given Nietzsche’s emphasis on the ‘will to power’. 46 
Before continuing I should first note the possibility that some 
Nietzschean themes could have found their way into Fumiko’s ideas 
indirectly - through her reading of Artzibashev. But to turn to 
Nietzsche’s impact in Japan, he was known there from about the 
turn of the century, and was popular with writers like Takayama 
‘Chogyu’ for his works on aesthetics, his individualism (especially in 
connection with the Ubermensch, ‘superman’ or ‘overman’) and his 
conception of the ‘will to power’. Takayama’s case provides some 
insights into the reasons for Nietzsche’s popularity in Japan, because 
his transition from the ‘way of abnegation and sacrifice’ to the 
‘way of will and power’ was in the forefront of a broader philo- 
sophical trend that increasingly emphasized jiga and jiga shucho (‘ego- 
assertion’) over muga (‘ego annihilation' or ‘self-denial’). 47 The way to 
happiness was to satisfy one’s instinctual drives (also a Bergsonian 
theme), irrespective of conventional morality. Among Takayama’s 
heroes were Gautama Buddha, Nichiren, Nietzsche and Napoleon. 
Kinmonth writes that he lauded the thirteenth-century founder of 
Nichiren Buddhism as a Japanese Ubermensch , 48 Another devotee of 
Nietzsche, Abe Jiro, had worked for the Asahi Shinbun for a time, 
and it was he who in 1919 published a commentary on Nietzsche’s 
Thus Spake Zarathustra. 49 

For Nietzsche, death was an integral part of life, not its opposite, 
and if life should be creative and joyful, the same must be said of 
death. One must be powerful at death in order to meet it as it 
should be met, and to withstand any manipulation of the fear of it. 
Nietzsche’s view that we should have control over our own deaths 
was based on his belief that Christianity abused ‘the weakness of the 
dying to commit conscience rape’; thus he argued for suicide in 
some cases, partly to prevent Christians from abusing the hour of 
death. 50 Suicide for him was not a negation of life, for a love of life 
would lead one to die at the right time: ‘To die proudly when it is 
no longer possible to live proudly. Death of one’s own free choice, 
death at the proper time, with a clear head and with joyfulness.’ 
Earlier in his life, Nietzsche had seemed to see death as merely a libera- 
tion from suffering (like Schopenhauer), but later he glorified it in a 
way that rivalled earlier Romantics: ‘All that became perfect, all 
that is ripe wants to die. . . . Death has been made into bitter medicine 
by narrow pharmacist minds [but] one should make a feast out of 
one’s death’. 51 

Fumiko might have been influenced by Schopenhauer, firstly 
because like him she represented death as both a ‘joy’ and a 



100 Engagements with death 

‘deliverance’. Her approach to continuity after death was also quite 
similar to Schopenhauer’s, as are some of her remarks on egoism. 52 
Fumiko did not shar e his negative view of egoism, but was similarly 
‘pessimistic’ in her earlier view of the world and life. Moreover, like 
nihilism in Zen, where negation leads to an affirmation of the 
Buddha-nature in a 1 things, Schopenhauer advocated overcoming 
the duality of life and death through a pattern of negation in order 
to reach a ‘Great’ affirmation (enlightenment). In effect, Fumiko, 
too, negated life, then negated that negation to arrive at an ultimate 
‘affirmation of life’ (‘true nihilism’) that she equated with rebellion 
‘unto death’. 53 

There is much in Nietzsche’s ideas that is suggestive of Fumiko - 
certainly the emphasis on affirming death (and suicide), meeting it 
with joy, and powerfully. The nature of his influence upon others of 
the earlier generation in Japan also suggests something further 
about her case. Many in late Meiji had cited Nietzsche as an inspira- 
tion for their youthful romanticization of ‘anguish’ or ‘melancholy’, 
and aestheticization of death or suicide. His early tendency to see 
life as ‘suffering’, and later glorification of death and suicide may 
have had something to do with this. There is a certain irony in the 
fact that these young ‘anguished’ Japanese were attracted to 
Nietzsche, 54 who had declared himself the enemy of the ‘nihilism’ 
(life-negation) or pessimism of Christians, Platonists, Idealists, Scho- 
penhauer, and so on. He affirmed death, certainly, but he also affirmed 
life. Nancy Andrew gives an interesting account of Seitosha (Blue- 
stocking’s) founder, Hiratsuka Raicho’s youthful interest in Zen and 
Nietzsche (late in Meiji): she mentions how in 1907 Hiratsuka was 
typical of the ‘philosophic youth’ then because absorbed in ‘ethics, 
God and the meaning of life’, but her account of Hiratsuka’s interest 
in Nietzsche more suggests a fascination with death. 55 

Another way in which Nietzsche had an impact on philosophical 
and political thinking in Japan is also related to pessimism, albeit 
indirectly. Kinmonth writes that Nietzsche had ‘countered the idea 
that humanism was to lead to mass equality and prosperity’ 
(Fumiko said the same thing about socialism, though this rejection 
of idealism about future progress was also a theme in Artzibashev’s 
novel): humanism’s real purpose was to produce an elite of ‘model 
individuals’ (chojin/ Ubermensch) ‘for whom the masses existed’. 56 
Fumiko represented herself as having a special individual mission in 
life and at times expressed a disdain for the passive masses who did 
not assert their will. But though she said she was not so ‘idealistic’ 
as to believe in a future egalitarian society, she was none the less 



Commentary: discourse on death and beyond 101 

highly critical of social inequality and believed in the necessity of fight- 
ing against it. She might have seemed somewhat elitist at times, but in 
her memoirs she derided the notion of worldly success that earlier 
admirers of Nietzsche had found so appealing, and opposed authority 
or domination of any sort. 57 While the anarchist Osugi Sakae (who 
probably influenced Fumiko more directly) had been inspired by 
Nietzsche, he did not accept the idea of a superhero who would 
demand mass obedience; nor did he agree with intellectual leadership 
of the masses. What he found attractive in Nietzsche’s thinking was 
the idea of an ‘overman’ who overcame his own limitations through 
will power. 58 

Fumiko’s will to die while rebelling against power was tantamount 
to the social Darwinist ‘struggle for existence’, but hers was a com- 
petitive struggle with forces that did more than threaten to deny her 
access to worldly success. She literally saw it as a struggle for existence 
in the sense that if she did not rebel, her selfhood would be crushed. 
Hers was a battle of wills, in fact a ‘will to power’, but not to the 
sort of power that the ruling class had over the common people (or 
an Ubermensch might have). The power that Fumiko sought was the 
power of an individual over her own life, not the lives of others. 
This was also true of Osugi; and he did not accept either popular inter- 
pretations of Nietzsche or the extreme egoism of Stirner, for to do so 
would lead to a complete isolation of the individual from society. 59 
The fact that Fumiko indicated that Stirner had had the most 
profound influence on her ‘egoist’ ideas was part and parcel of her 
declaration of her complete alienation from society - according to her 
own account, even before her imprisonment. Stirner’s work. The Ego 
and His Own, it might be noted, had been translated into Japanese 
by the well-known nihilist, Tsuji Jun, and published earlier in Taisho. 

Stirner (a probable influence upon Nietzsche) did not have much to 
say about death, but what little he did have to say cannot be over- 
looked. I have already remarked on his attitude toward enjoying 
one’s life - using it up, consuming or ‘annihilating’ it - and on how 
Fumiko first seems to have taken this annihilation of Life literally. 
The naturalist writer Masamune Hakucho, a Meiji pessimistic nihilist, 
also spoke of both the universe and the self being annihilated simul- 
taneously at death, expressing a radical solipsism like Stirner’s. 60 By 
the ‘enjoyment’ of life Stirner meant living for the moment, risking 
life or getting the most out of it without any thought for anyone or any- 
thing else: one’s life was one’s own. Enjoying life entailed triumphing 
over the ‘longing for life’ or ‘hope of life’ of the religious. Those who 
expend their lives trying to prolong life cannot enjoy it, he argued; 



102 Engagements with death 

while those who still seek for life do not have it and can little enjoy it: 
‘Christianity does not permit thinking of death otherwise than with the 
purpose to take its sting from it and - live on and preserve oneself 
nicely.’ Christians would put up with anything, he observed, just so 
long as they can ‘haggle and smuggle’ themselves into heaven; they 
must not kill themselves, but rather preserve themselves and work at 
the ‘preparation of a future abode’. This conservatism or ‘conquest 
of death’ is what lies; at the heart of the Christian: ‘the last enemy 
that is abolished is death’. 61 Thus, Stirner cited St Paul as the prime 
example of a negation of both life and death’s reality, and was scathing 
about the meaning Christians ascribed to ‘self’-preservation. This 
involved distinguishing ‘myself from myself (my immortal soul from 
my earthly existence etc.)’. It was not just the belief in immortality 
that he denounced, but the very idea that one part of us, the spirit, is 
in dualistic opposition to another part of us; we are divided into ‘an 
essential and unessential self’. 62 Preserving oneself also meant that 
one could not take one’s own life: Christians, he said, had power 
over their deaths by ‘preserving’ or limiting their lives, living in 
accordance with the limitations imposed by morality. For Stirner, the 
only life one has is this life now, so one would hardly deny it (even in 
Hegelian style) for the sake of the ‘true life’ of the spirit in the here 
and now or hereafter. Fumiko also wanted power over both her 
death and life like (Nietzsche or) Stirner, and she did not deny life in 
the sense criticized by him. Nor did she deny death’s reality in Christian 
style, even if one of her poems (about the warring of spirit and flesh) did 
have a suggestion of a Platonic or Christian-like dualistic split between 
mind and body. Her sense of ‘immortality’ had no relation to notions of 
an immortal soul. 

Stirner anticipated Nietzsche’s critique of (dualistic) morality and 
‘pessimism’, life-denial or negation. He had also derided humanism 
as a new Idealist morality, a ‘sacred fixed idea’ according to which 
‘[hujMan’ had replaced Christ as the Subject, the ‘I of the world’s his- 
tory’. 63 Therefore, w hile Fumiko’s own attack on morality actually 
cited Stirner, her advocacy of amorality and her rejection of the ideal- 
ism inherent in humanist or socialist views of progress could have been 
influenced by either or both Nietzsche and Stirner. Broadly speaking, 
her attitudes toward life and death closely resemble the ideas of 
modern ‘amoralists’ like them and Artzibashev. More than Stirner, 
Fumiko might well be called an existentialist, because she at least 
expressed a ‘despair’ of, or ‘disgust’ with, Being or existence, and expli- 
citly rejected anarchist optimism about the future and idealism about 
humanity. 64 Confronting a power intent on beating her into sub- 



Commentary: discourse on death and beyond 103 

mission, she tried to walk a tightrope between a self-empowerment 
that came close to the self-aggrandizement implied in the works of 
Stirner or Nietzsche and, ultimately, a more social form of ‘self- 
creation’ and assertion. Ultimately, she advocated a need for indi- 
viduals to mitigate (if not altogether negate) power, and at least 
ameliorate the unequal, repressive condition of society. But concerning 
death and its beyond, it should be emphasized that of all the Western 
philosophers discussed, Stirner most ex plicitly dismissed the possibility 
of an after-‘life’. In a rather Zen-like fashion, his concern was for the 
moment, the here and now. 

Fumiko’s insistence in her letter to Judge Tatematsu that she would 
go to death with joy suggested an influence from Nietzsche, and her 
‘affirmation of life’, synonymous with ego/will-assertion, could have 
been derived from Nietzsche, Stirner, Artzibashev or even Zen. But 
the fact that she spoke of a joyful affirmation of life only in the context 
of ‘Nature’, as opposed to human society, narrows the field to 
Artzibashev. Like him, she distinguished between the ‘natural’ and 
human world, finding joy only in the former. Artzibashev was the 
only European writer actually quoted by Fumiko in connection with 
death (and Sanine was largely about death, suicide etc.). ‘Sanine’ 
had said that death is the best course for those who have no joy in 
life, and this was also Nietzsche’s prescription for ‘negative nihilists’ 
or pessimists. In Sanine Nietzsche is referred to, albeit rather critically, 
and the novel also contains many themes present in Stirner’s The Ego 
and His Own: ‘egoism’ versus moralism, altruism and self-sacrifice. It 
might be added that the anarchist, Ito Noe, had written admiringly 
in 1917 of Artzibashev’s hero, ‘Sanine’, the egoist. 65 

Sanine is a superior type. Disdainful of the idealism with which 
acquaintances embrace their various causes, he is concerned only 
with living his life to the full, paying no heed to the moral concerns 
of others. He brings about one suicide; recommends it to a pessimistic 
friend who takes his advice; and when asked to say a few words over 
the grave of yet another who killed himself (a revolutionary idealist 
unable to decide which cause he should sacrifice himself for), Sanine 
pronounces him a fool. 66 Neither the suicides he had a part in causing, 
nor the loss to the world of one more fool, nor the pain of the woman 
he forced ‘to bend to his will’ cause Sanine any remorse: one is alone in 
life, responsible only to oneself, and morality is an illusion. Bored with 
the mediocrities in his village at the end of the story, he departs, once 
more denouncing the ‘vileness’ of humanity and the brutishness and 
slavishness of the masses. 67 



104 Engagements with death 

There are far too many parallels between Artzibashev’s novel and 
Fumiko’s ideas for us to dismiss them as accidental. The themes in 
Sanine that we also find in Fumiko’s texts are: 

1) a decidedly critica , cynical view of Christianity (one character in 
Sanine declares ir Nietzschean style that Buddha, the gods of 
Greece and Christ are all dead; Christianity had proved itself as 
‘impotent’ in the face of human bestiality as any other religion, 
and it was due to the ‘law of evolution’ that all had had their 
day); 68 

2) an insistence that one can choose to die of one’s own free will, 
especially if one has no joy in life; 69 

3) an expectation that the only grief one will feel at the point of death 
is at the prospect of losing the senses with which one enjoys life 
(defined more in terms of Nature); 70 

4) a negative view o f humanity, or at least ‘unnatural’ society con- 
trasted with a joyful celebration of Nature, which is ‘free’: ‘All is 
beautiful’, enthuses one character, ‘man alone is vile.’); 71 

5) an emphasis on one’s being educated through one’s experience of 
life rather than from books (interestingly, characters in the novel 
make negative remarks about Nietzsche on more than one occasion 
in the context of learning from life, not books); 72 

6) a cynicism about sacrifice for ‘lofty’ ideals of any description (dying 
for others was a fool’s death, according to Sanine); 73 

7) a (‘nihilist’ or Russian populist) conception of social change as 
necessarily involving bloodshed and a view of life as conflict, 
coupled with disbelief in a future ‘golden age’ where all will be 
free and equal (for we might even regress to barbarism); 74 

8) a disdain for the ‘slave mentality’ and brutishness of the masses 
who are content to do nothing about their servitude and thus 
deserve it. 75 

In general Sanine is characterized by the sort of nihilistic amoralism 
that seems to have attracted Fumiko to Stirner. Echoing Stirner on 
how humans suffer from the illusory morality they themselves 
create, Sanine observes that people ‘create for themselves phantoms, 
shadows, illusions, and are the first to suffer by them’. 76 And finally, 
a further parallel connected with the novel’s main theme of pessimism 
and optimism, life and death is that it is those who (unlike Fumiko) 
are idealistic about humanity, altruistic causes, the future and ‘pro- 
gress’ who (like Fumiko) are represented as having no joy in life 
now; and it is they who die. In mid-1925 Fumiko clearly identified 



Commentary: discourse on death and beyond 105 


with their taking their own lives because of a lack of joy in life, though 
she did not share their idealistic dreams. 

As to Suga’s and Fumiko’s approaches to metaphysics, then, firstly 
there is no evidence to support the possibility that it was a Christian- 
Platonic notion of a permanent continuity of personality after death 
that Suga once posited - when she referred in one prison poem to 
the confidence and consolation that her ‘eternal life’ afforded her. 
Fumiko’s case is more complex in the sense that the foreign phil- 
osophers she expressed an interest in, were mostly noted for their 
proximity to Asian philosophies: Nietzsche, Bergson, Hegel, and even 
Stirner have all been claimed as ‘honorary orientals’. 77 While some- 
times it is not possible to pinpoint precisely which Western phil- 
osophers influenced which exact areas of Fumiko’s thinking, they all 
posited: amorality; a fairly general emphasis on the assertion of the 
will or ego; an affirmation or even in some cases a glorification of 
death; and also an explicit rejection of Christian doctrine. As for 
im-mortality, Fumiko did not use Christian or Amidist terminology 
like ‘heaven’ or ‘paradise’ or ‘salvation’, but expressed herself in 
terms more reminiscent of Mahayana sects like Zen: ‘all phenomena 
perish as phenomena’, she wrote, yet continue in a ‘true existence’ 
(a vague sort of ‘essence’, perhaps). Given that in Zen doctrine there 
is no soul that survives death, Fumiko could have been expressing a 
Zen sort of phenomenalism, according to which there is no duality 
of life and death, true existence is nothingness. 78 On her return from 
Korea she spent some time with a maternal uncle who was a Rinzai 
Zen priest, though she said that he was not particularly religious. 79 
Therefore, on the whole Fumiko’s remarks (as well as her silences) 
suggest a vague, impersonal, symbolic ‘immortality’ that was more 
in keeping with Zen than Christianity or other forms of Buddhism, 
but perhaps owed little to any systematized religious doctrine. 

IM MORTALIZING MORTALITY 

Fumiko’s and Suga’s rather vague and inconsistent remarks on post- 
mortem states might be taken to suggest a particular, though un- 
systematized view of continuity after death which Lifton, Kato and 
Reich claim has been dominant in Japan in this century: ‘dying into 
the cosmos’. 80 They also note that this has been common in non- 
Western societies. It refers to the idea that individual souls stay for a 
while but gradually fade away or disappear from the living cosmos. 
The individual soul belongs to a group, usually the family, but as 
time passes and living memory fades the soul disappears, becoming 



106 Engagements with death 

an ancestor god. Though there is a continuity of personality after 
death, the individuality of the soul is not eternal. Lifton, Kato and 
Reich maintain that Japanese religions have generally subscribed a 
group-oriented ‘immortality’ which is connected with this world 
through the family, social group, or nation. This ‘larger connected- 
ness’ with this world is said to have lessened anxiety about death in 
Japan. Treating the dead as still part of the world and daily life, in 
other words, is thought to be an important aspect of Japan’s this- 
worldliness. 81 Hence, what they refer to as ‘dying into the cosmos’ 
hinges upon a few in:errelated aspects of Japanese religion commonly 
held to be its defining characteristics: this-worldliness (or ‘optimism’/ 
life-affirmation); a part of which is a group-orientation rather than 
individualism; which in turns means a comparative lack of death- 
denial. Therefore, in order for Suga or Fumiko to present a ‘typically 
Japanese’ approach lo life and death it would have to be inclusive or 
unitary (affirming both in ‘Eastern’ style); and it would have to be 
group-oriented. Let us see how they measure up. 

Firstly, it would seem that the meaning that ‘immortality’ held for 
Suga or Fumiko was not other-worldly. Suga’s attitude toward her 
sister Hide’s death was not very consistent with her positivistic rejec- 
tions of an after-life, but still it might be said to reflect this ‘this- 
worldly’ tendency to maintain an interdependence between the living 
and dead. Each woman, moreover, fantasized about staying in the 
world to wreak vengeance upon her enemies. Their inconsistencies re 
‘life’ after death might suggest a split between the rational-political 
and a persistence of the sort of religious belief discussed by Lifton, 
Kato and Reich. On the other hand, presenting themselves as potential 
vengeful spirits could have political uses. This unwillingness to leave 
the world behind afler being executed by the state was a special, not 
uniquely Japanese, sort of ‘this-worldliness’. 

Thus far, the dominant Japanese attitude toward ‘immortality’ 
posited by Lifton, Kato and Reich does not seem to be a very useful 
heuristic device. It seems likely that Suga’s or Fumiko’s determined 
affirmation of death was more a reflection of her immediate political 
situation than of Japanese ‘this-worldliness’ or unitary visions of life 
and death. When iri prison facing the death penalty it would have 
served little purpose for either to have denied the reality of death; to 
have done so would have implied a lack of readiness and resolution, 
and thus, a loss of power. As to group-centred versus individualist 
approaches to death, moreover, we would already expect Suga to 
opt more for the former and Fumiko more for the latter. This had 
much to do with the respective ideologies they embraced, a collectivis- 



Commentary: discourse on death and beyond 107 

tic form of anarchism and ‘egoism’ or nihilism, both of which were 
largely foreign in origin. Further, while for Lifton and co-authors, 
death in Japan is ‘less an individual event than an occurrence within 
the group or community’, they do concede that in Japan there is an 
(undefined) ‘elite’ whose ‘highly individualized’ approaches to death 
involve trying to ‘take hold of death with their own hands to ensure 
the meaning and purpose of their life.’ If the great mass of Japanese 
people is not elitist-individualistic but group-oriented, how then do 
we account for Suga’s elitist-groupist tendencies? 

One way out of this quandary might be to put some thought into 
whether women conform to such models of elite-mass difference. 
Further, we might remind ourselves that, while there may indeed be 
aspects of ostensibly ‘Japanese’ symbolizations of immortality that 
bring to mind Fumiko’s or Suga’s case, the five modes of immortality 
discussed by Lifton, Kato and Reich arc: by their own account univer- 
sal. They are means by which people anywhere posit their own con- 
tinuity, thereby rendering death as not so powerful a foe after all. 
And on the other hand, as the authors themselves point out, indi- 
viduals’ symbolizations of their ‘immortality’ may combine two or 
more of these five universal modes of symbolic immortality - 
‘biological-biosocial, theological, creative, natural, and experiential 
transcendence’. Indeed, amongst these, all but one, the ‘theological’ 
mode, seem applicable to Suga and/or Fumiko. 

To turn more directly, then, to the sorts of frameworks in which 
Suga and Fumiko laid claim to ‘im-moi tality’, one form of symbolic 
continuity that is suggestive of Suga is the third ‘creative’ mode - con- 
tinuity through creative works or personal impact on others. This is a 
collectively oriented symbolization of immortality, where the group 
might be familial, social, national or even universal. The individual’s 
creative legacy could be scientific, artistic, literary or political. Suga 
wanted to leave her prison diary to her comrades, and more generally, 
symbolized her own continuity in terms of the revolutionary legacy she 
was bequeathing to the cause. But Suga’s construction of revolu- 
tionary immortality probably encompassed both the ‘creative’ and 
‘biological-biosocial’ modes because it extended a ‘familial’ continuity 
to a political group. Lifton includes the biosocial mode under the bio- 
logical category, since the social group can become a substitute for 
familial continuity. 82 Suga exhibited a much stronger sense of con- 
nectedness with humanity through her expanded (transnational) revo- 
lutionary group than Fumiko, which is partly why her symbolic 
continuity was more group-oriented than individualistic. She also 
had almost no immediate family left by the time of her death, which 



108 Engagements with death 

may have contributed to her reliance on an ‘adopted’ family. A pos- 
sible indication of the pertinence of the ‘biosocial’ mode of immortal- 
ity to Suga’s case is the fact that she was scrupulous about willing her 
few possessions to particular friends in the socialist movement. 83 She 
may have hoped to gain a symbolic continuity through passing per- 
sonal possessions on to comrades. Her use of the term ‘memento’ 
( kinenhin ) to refer to the items suggests this. On the other hand, how- 
ever, since very few socialists were wealthy, she may have simply 
wanted her property to be handed on to those who would have a 
use for it; and she did say this herself. 

It is thought-provoking that Lifton mentions a common fear of 
ostracism in individuals whose symbolizations of immortality fit the 
biosocial mode. 84 The security of the group can be seen as so impor- 
tant that death might be considered preferable to ostracism. Suga 
had been ostracized by many socialists when she and Kotoku 
became lovers. (This will be discussed in Part III.) We cannot know 
for certain whether Suga’s commitment to sacrificing herself for the 
cause had something to do with a need to redeem herself, but there 
is no doubt that once executed she was seen by the movement to 
have atoned for her sins against ‘socialist’ morality. 85 

In Fumiko’s case the biological mode is almost certainly not perti- 
nent - she would not have wanted to ‘live on’ in a family she was- 
alienated from. No: did she voice a biosocial expectation of living 
on in the memories and traditions of future generations of revolution- 
aries. However, she did leave a ‘creative’ (political) legacy for com- 
rades or society: her prison writings. Her autobiography she first 
dedicated to comrades who might find it ‘useful’ for pedagogic 
purposes, then to ‘the parents of the world’. But she immediately 
added, ‘No, I think I want all people to read it, not only parents, but 
also teachers, politicians and social theorists who want to reform 
society’. 86 Fumiko represented herself quite consistently as a deter- 
mined egoist and ami-social nihilist, but her words here (and elsewhere) 
sometimes have a riig of altruism. Perhaps she sought a personal con- 
tinuity through her creative works - which included some poetry pub- 
lished by comrades while she was still alive - but, unlike Suga, she did 
not use a strong identification with a group or society as armour against 
the threat of annihi ation. 

The modes of symbolic immortality that are clearer in Fumiko’s 
representations of continuity are ‘Nature’ and ‘experiential tran- 
scendence’, which are closely related. ‘Living on in Nature’ refers to 
‘the perception that the natural environment around us - limitless in 
space and time - will remain, and that something of oneself remains 



Commentary: discourse on death and beyond 109 

a part of it’. 87 ‘Living on in Nature’ is said by Lifton to have been 
‘especially vivid in Japanese culture, steeped as it is in nature sym- 
bolism’, a legacy in part of the animistic tendencies of indigenous 
folk religion. It now begins to sound as if Fumiko were the more 
‘Japanese’, since she more than Suga claimed a special relation to 
Nature in connection with both life and death; but while nature sym- 
bolism might have been particularly vivid in Japan, this ‘natural’ mode 
of immortality has been universal, one European expression of it being 
nineteenth-century Romanticism. 88 

One can see how Fumiko’s constructions of death and symbolic 
continuity would logically come to be bound up with her general ten- 
dency to glorify Nature. But her this-worldliness or ‘connectedness’ 
with this world was a little one-sided, for she had wiped her hands 
of the ‘ugliness’ of the world of humans, her positive view of ‘nature’ 
did not extend to human society. The only time Fumiko explicitly 
remarked upon an ongoing relation with the human world, was in 
the context of wanting to avenge herself upon it. She wrote of finding 
joy only in the natural (not human) world, and often spoke of herself 
and others as corrupted by contact with society. When narrating the 
story of her intention to commit suicide in Korea because of mistreat- 
ment by her paternal relatives, she said that she had decided not to 
throw herself in the river after all because the cry of a locust suddenly 
reminded her that she would have to part from the things in Nature 
she loved. Later in her memoirs she added that people’s fear of 
death was based on a sadness at parting from earthly phenomena. 

Fumiko’s general idealization of nature is clear at various points in 
her memoirs, where by ‘freedom’ she implied two different but inter- 
related meanings; firstly, being able to live in a pristine state of 
nature; and secondly, a separation from human society. The immediate 
influences on Fumiko’s negative view of urbanized society and positive 
view of Nature and innate, uncorrupted human nature may have 
been Artzibashev, anarcho-communism (Kropotkin) and Japanese 
agrarianism. In an anti-modernist style akin to that of twentieth- 
century anarchists or agrarianists, Fumiko spoke of how the villages 
in Japan had been plundered and impoverished by the cities. 89 

There was therefore a multi-faceted meaning inherent in Fumiko’s 
claim that in Korea she had felt ‘free’ only when she was sent to the 
mountains alone to pick chestnuts: 

Ah, nature! In nature there are no lies. Nature is open-hearted and 
free. It does not warp humanity as humans [themselves] do. Feeling 
this in my soul, I was inspired to say ‘I hank you’ to the mountains. 



110 Engagements with death 

Meanwhile, I had suddenly recollected the life I led at the time, and 
wanted to cry. Then I did cry and cry. But there has not been 
another day in my life that changed me to the extent of that day 
I spent in the mountains. That day was the day of my liberation. 90 

Perhaps her writing of nature as a ‘purifying’ agent could be seen to be 
very ‘traditional’, especially given the spiritual importance of moun- 
tains in Japanese folk religious traditions, but it was at least equally 
‘modern’. As a means of contrasting the beauty, kindness and purity 
of nature with the ‘distorted’ and cruel characteristics of society, she 
also described what she saw that day from her vantage-point in the 
mountains: Korean prisoners being dragged out into a Japanese mili- 
tary-police compourd, stripped naked and whipped! Fumiko did not 
have had a ‘larger sense of connectedness’ with the urbanized, 
modern capitalist and imperialist world. Still, it could be argued that 
even in early medieval times in Japan, ‘renouncing the world’ really 
meant the human-sccial world. 

Fumiko’s hermit-like desire to renounce the ‘world’ brings us finally 
to the last mode, ‘experiential transcendence’, whereby one achieves a 
state where time, death or a ‘sense of mortality’ are negated through 
‘losing oneself’. Japanese culture has long stressed ‘quiet’ forms of 
this mode, Lifton, Kato and Reich observe, in spiritual and physical 
disciplines like Zen. Classical terms like ‘ mujo\ ‘ hakanai ’ and 
‘ aware ’ have expressed a poignant pleasure in the fragile, ephemeral 
beauty of living things; and a feeling that humanity is part of an eter- 
nal, ever-changing cosmos. The metaphorical suggestion is that human 
life is also short; and aesthetic appreciation of it can increase in direct 
proportion to its brevity. This is indicated by the likening of young 
samurai dying bravely in battle to cherry blossoms, long cherished 
in Japan partly because of the brevity of their beauty and vitality. 91 

Here also I need not quarrel so much with constructs of ‘Japanese- 
ness’, perhaps, since Fumiko clearly was one in a very long line of 
Japanese poets who found pleasure or solace in depicting human 
fate and the destiny of a cricket, flower or bird as little different. 
Amongst Fumiko’s poems one can readily find expressions of this 
originally Buddhist concept of the ephemerality of all things in nature: 

Cricket! 

Stop lamenting in the corner 
for I too 

follow the same road 
as yourself. 92 



Commentary: discourse on death and beyond 1 1 1 
Three to five 

wild garden roses in their 
second bloom - 
lingering, it strikes me 
that this is my fate too. 93 

We might recall that Suga also seemed to liken herself to ‘a raven, 
forlorn’, though the picture she painted then was not serene but a 
threatening, gloomy one of a raven about to be enveloped in a 
storm and darkness. 94 Yet for either woman, waxing philosophical 
about her fate or the brevity of human life (a universal habit, albeit 
with particular cultural expressions) wais still a form of ‘immortaliz- 
ation’. Compared to others it was a less defiant one, to be sure, but, 
undeniably, ‘experiential transcendence’ was one of many ways in 
which they armed themselves against death and, by extension, also 
against those who brandished it. 

CONCLUSION 

The difficulties involved in deciding whether Suga’s or Fumiko’s dis- 
course on death and beyond was recognizably (‘essentially’) ‘Japanese’ 
suggests something about methodological approaches that give undue 
explanatory weight to cultural identity. Though it might be tempting 
to resort to stereotypical essentialist notions of inclusive/unitary atti- 
tudes toward life and death in the ‘East’, we could hardly conclude 
that either embraced death with an apparent readiness or serenity 
only because of a specific cultural identi ty or, indeed, special psycho- 
logical make-up. Perhaps a denial of death was not a real option for 
them, because to refuse to accept it would imply fear. How they con- 
fronted death and represented themselves in relation to it had rather a 
lot to do with their immediate situations: with politics and power. 

The various ways in which they went about claiming a symbolic 
continuity - an im-mortality - were clearly part of their refusal to 
accept that their destinies were in the hands of others. If'm their cul- 
tural context this signified that two hitherto obscure women had 
joined the ranks of a social elite, moreover, surely it was largely 
because they had few other options when facing the threat of execu- 
tion; they could either protest their innocence and beg their ‘benevo- 
lent fathers’ for mercy or ‘take hold of death with their own hands 
to ensure the meaning and purpose of their life’. 95 One aspect of the 
latter was the symbolic continuity implied in leaving behind works, 
either to ensure a personal continuity after death, or merely in the 



112 Engagements with death 

hope that they could have the last word. In the final analysis it is ironic 
that Suga’s and Funtiko’s ‘annihilations’ would ultimately be negated 
through their being immortalized in history. Irony must indeed be the 
principal trope of history, 96 for, the expectations of their enemies not- 
withstanding, ultimately they were not silenced. 



6 Commentary: martyrs, nihilists and 
other rebel heroes 


INTRODUCTION 

Reconstructing the respective contexts of the subjects’ strategies for 
power in the area of their representations of death also demands con- 
sideration of the more explicitly political aspects of their culture. 
Within this political culture, they acted and interacted with others 
on the basis of a shared language about resistance and heroism, and 
also ‘rebellion unto death’. Shared ‘languages’ notwithstanding, how- 
ever, the political culture Suga or Fumiko was a part of was internally 
differentiated and dynamic. Twentieth-century Japanese radicals, too, 
were capable of ‘picking and choosing’ from existing models of rebel- 
lion and resistance - both indigenous and imported - accepting, 
appropriating, reworking and contesting them as they saw fit. 

My focus in this chapter is on the more practical aspects of the sub- 
jects’ political influences; on constructs of political action and political 
death. Taking account also of likely ‘exotic’ influences, I first consider 
how Kanno Suga and Kaneko Fumiko seem to have modelled them- 
selves on two particular kinds of ‘traditional’ rebels, before proceeding 
with further discussion of the constructions Japanese heroes have 
placed upon ‘dying well’ (and the ‘Great Death’), upon politically 
motivated vengeance and an aesthetics of death. Once again, a central 
problem addressed in this chapter is ‘Japaneseness’ - the degree to 
which cultural identity can explain the constructions Suga and/or 
Fumiko placed upon political action. If, in ‘universalist’ style, hitherto 
I seemed somewhat dismissive of its importance, in this context I will 
be treating the issue more seriously. 

Nevertheless, both this and the last chapter seek to avoid defining 
Meiji and Taisho activists only by reference to either indigenous 
ideational or action models, or the European-derived ‘isms’ they 
embraced. To say, for example, that Suga and Fumiko were inspired 



114 Engagements with death 

by European and other radical theorists and activists is not to deny 
that their own indigenous culture, in all its internally differentiated 
forms, played a significant part in influencing their ideas and actions. 
No doubt their critiques of Japanese society and their ideas about 
political action were sometimes inspired and sometimes reinforced by 
foreign-inspired ideas current in their respective revolutionary 
groups. Political resistance and rebellion had, after all, been carried 
on quite effectively in Japan long before the advent of ‘liberal democ- 
racy’, ‘socialism’, ‘anarchism’ or ‘nihilism’. 1 

Whether the subjects’ constructions of political action and death 
were part of a discourse that was more indigenous or more alien is 
not really the issue, however. Those who embrace foreign doctrines 
may not recognize the degree to which their conceptions of rebellion 
are influenced by traditional patterns. The political effects of 
acknowledging traditional precedents may even be considered un- 
desirable in a context where a modernizing state and emperor- 
system is bent on both furthering and reinventing ‘tradition’ for its 
own uses. Such difficulties, however, do not obviate the need to 
acknowledge that indigenous and other inspirations reinforced and 
acted upon each other, resulting in influences upon the subjects’ 
thinking that may have been deeper than a mere borrowing of 
‘exotic’ views would suggest. 

The syndicalist slogan of ‘direct action’ may have been embraced by 
many Japanese radicals with a sense of recognition or familiarity; 2 just 
as some Japanese philosophers or activists took up European intui- 
tionism and action- oriented ethics because they seemed ‘Oriental’. 
The exaltation of decisive action in political circles from Bakumatsu 
(1853-1868) to the Taisho era and beyond, which was partly informed 
by Yomeigaku (a heterodox, individualistic style of Tokugawa Confu- 
cianism), came to be augmented by recourse to the ideas of European 
philosophers like Henri Bergson and Georges Sorel. 3 Action was so 
centra! to Bergson’s system that Bertrand Russell categorizes his as 
a ‘practical philosophy’, which is to say that in it action is regarded 
as the ‘supreme good’. 4 Whether directly, or indirectly through theor- 
ists like Osugi Sakae, Fumiko may well have been inspired by Bergson 
in the area of action. He had posited an instinct to, or desire for, action 
without purpose or idealistic vision (a theme which modern Japanese 
admirers of Yomeigaku also cite). Sorel, the author of Reflections on 
Violence, was influenced by Bergson, and therefore advocated a revo- 
lutionary labour movement without a definite goal. Thus, foreign 
influence may have been the more immediate inspiration in some 
areas, even accorded prominence by Fumiko and Suga themselves; 



Commentary: martyrs, nihilists and other rebel heroes 1 1 5 

none the less, one still cannot overlook the likelihood that, in some 
respects, indigenous traditions paved the way for an acceptance of 
the ‘new’ model for political action. 

The glorification in Meiji and Taisho radical circles of ostensibly 
Western ideals - for example, direct action and ego/self-assertion - 
had some indigenous roots. Yet it is not always possible to determine 
the degree to which those Japanese who embraced such ‘Western’ 
ideas did so with a conscious sense of familiarity. Philosophers like 
Nishida Kitaro, Nishitani Keiji and others, attracted to Western 
thinking partly because they found correspondences between it and 
Eastern philosophies, may have been exceptional. Matsumoto Sanno- 
suke makes some pertinent remarks on cultural borrowing in an essay 
on Confucian foundations for (‘Western’) natural rights theory: 

When a nation which has already developed a highly sophisticated 
culture encounters and begins to absorb another from outside, 
the preexisting culture intervenes to provide a frame of reference. 
Foreign cultural components are selected and digested in terms of 
familiar concepts and vocabulary. This tendency is most pro- 
nounced when cultural learning is the result of independent 
choice, as in the case of Japan’s encounter with the West. Japanese 
intellectuals of the Bakumatsu and early Meiji periods, seeking to 
adopt modern political ideas from the West, often understand 
these ideas in terms of Confucian concepts. They employ existing 
terminology as well, which they redefine appropriately. 5 

‘Culture’, of course, is rather more than ‘ideas’ and ‘concepts’, com- 
prising a shared vocabulary and understanding, a shared recognition 
and ongoing contestation and reinvention of signs, symbols, rituals, 
codes of behaviour or action. 6 But what comes to mind in connection 
with Matsumoto’s remarks is Inga Clendinnen’s account of the indi- 
genous ‘concepts and vocabulary’ that the Maya in Yucatan brought 
to bear on their interpretation of Catholicism. 7 Her account raises the 
problem of whether such an intervention of a preexisting culture is 
particularly the case with an ‘independent’, more or less voluntary 
acquisition of new beliefs. Fumiko’s eclecticism was voluntary; but 
even if it had not been, her partly borrowed philosophical system 
would still not have been as ‘new’ as might be supposed from her 
remarks about Stirner, Nietzsche or Artzibashev. 

Cultural borrowing or influence, moreover, is seldom uni- 
directional. Suga played a part in a discourse about rebellion that 
extended beyond the boundaries of Japan to at least North America. 
She was memorialized along with her eleven executed comrades by 



116 Engagements with death 

Emma Goldman ar d other anarchists in the pages of Freedom and 
Mother Earth} (North American anarchists had organized a cam- 
paign earlier in support of the defendants). Suga was therefore one 
of the group of Japanese revolutionaries who came to have a place 
in a transnational libertarian culture. And this was not the first time 
that Japanese socialists had come to the attention of like-minded 
people in other parts of the world. Katayama Sen’s famous handshake 
with the Russian Social Democrat, Plekhanov, at the Amsterdam 
Congress of the Sccialist International in 1904 during the Russo- 
Japanese War had been seen by many to be a powerful symbol of 
socialist solidarity and internationalism. 9 

In some respects Suga’s and Fumiko’s responses to their immediate 
political environments were remarkably similar to the responses of 
radical contemporaries in Japan and in other parts of the world. 
They did not live ii an historical vacuum, and their environments 
were not so different from elsewhere in the world that discussion of 
their indigenous political heritage could lead one to conclude that 
Japanese radicals were politically aberrant. It is instructive to compare 
remarks by the Meiji anarchist, Arahata Kanson, about the political 
situation in Japan in the first decade of the century with an account 
of the state of affiirs then in Russia by the Russian anarchist, 
Voline. Both intimated that a state that brutally suppressed almost 
any form of political opposition was bound to produce a violent 
reaction. 10 

Thus, we look next at different types of popular heroes in (and out 
of) Japan, two in particular, the ‘noble’ and ‘nihilist’, whose differ- 
ences in style largely depend on the type of motivation for political 
action. At this point two cautions need to be raised, however: firstly, 
that I am speaking of a model along the general lines of which Suga 
or Fumiko seems to have constructed herself; and secondly, that I 
am referring to socially produced motivation, not individual psychol- 
ogy. Concerning the first point, the fact that each woman styled herself 
on a particular type of particular hero does not rule out the possibility 
of inconsistencies. S aga, the self-sacrificing fighter for a grand cause, 
was also capable of glorifying action almost as if it were an end in 
itself; and Fumiko, the amoral egoist, might have been more altruistic 
and ‘noble’ than she cared to admit. Concerning the issue of motiva- 
tion, on the other hand, one thing that underscores the social nature 
of this apparently personal question of motivation for action is the 
above-mentioned fact that a broad emphasis on muga (‘egolessness’ 
or selflessness) in Tokugawa and early Meiji had given way to jiga 
and jiga shucho (ego -assertion) in some circles by Taisho. While once 



Commentary: martyrs, nihilists and other rebel heroes 117 

even radical critics of hegemonic power and ideology mainly tended to 
construct themselves in the more familiar mode of self-denial, now 
‘egoism’ could be openly advocated as part of political discourse. Self- 
lessness was no less a part of the new emperor-centred hegemonic 
ideology, but now it had to contend with a more extreme expression 
of individualism that was buttressed rather than altogether created 
by new, foreign inspiration. 

HEROISM, NOBLE AND ‘NIHIRISLTO’ 

Fumiko and Suga both represented rebellion and revolution, respec- 
tively, as necessarily involving death; and Ivan Morris has argued 
that a real Japanese hero is one who dies in an act of valour. He, how- 
ever, has attempted to explain the (singular) ‘pattern of Japanese failed 
heroism’ in Japanese history by reference to noble heroes who ‘fought 
bravely for a doomed cause’. Morris’ remarks seem accurate enough in 
the case of Suga - who remained committed to an act of heroism for 
the cause - more accurate than in the case of Kotoku, whom he 
mentions." Yet Fumiko, a popular hero today in Japan at least on 
the Left and amongst feminists, denied that she had a ‘cause’ outside 
herself. ‘Failure’, therefore, could only be pertinent if she had not been 
true to herself. In general, the ‘act in itself’ that was important to 
Fumiko (resistance, or the heroic ‘deed ) meant the rebellious ‘asser- 
tion’ of her ego, self-creation and control of her own destiny. We 
may well ask whether the actions of po pular Japanese heroes always 
had to be centred on a worldly cause. In cases where they did seem 
important, we might still want to ask whether having a cause has 
necessarily had much to do with their popularity. Morris’ emphasis 
on pragmatism or practical failure leads him to ignore the possibility 
that some of his failed heroes might be admired simply because they 
acted ; or because they turned a worldly failure into a ‘spiritual’ sort 
of success. He himself describes ‘failed’, tragic heroes as admirable 
because of the ‘courage of their sincerity in carrying out brave but 
hopeless resistance’’ (my emphasis). 

In the context of the influence upon Restoration imperial ‘loyalists’ 
of an action-orientation in samurai ethical codes (‘Bushido/Budo/ 
Shid5’), Yomeigaku neo-Confucianism, and Nativism (Kokugaku), 
Thomas Huber notes of the ‘romantic’ faction among his ‘men of 
high purpose’ ( shishi ): 

Their aim was not in the external world of concrete results, but 

lay rather in the realm of emotional gratification that lay within 



1 1 8 Engagements with death 

themselves (but also in such observers, present or vicarious, as there 
might happen to be). For them, such gratification was derived from 
moral conduct, that is from exceptional and charismatic acts of 
loyalty. . . . Such acts were to be carried out with maximum public 
visibility, in the name of loyalty to the emperor, that is, devotion 
to the communal good. 12 

There is a tension here between the emphasis on internal gratification 
(even an aim that was a ‘profoundly satisf ying’ sort of ‘spiritual fulfil- 
ment’ through action), on the one hand, and the references to moral 
conduct, loyalty and even ‘devotion to the communal good’ on the 
other. We cannot know which really was central to individual Restora- 
tion ‘loyalists’ [sic] - the cause or the act itself- though Huber suggests 
the latter when he observes that ‘direct political results, if any, had 
nothing to do with it’ because what was deemed important was how 
individuals conducted themselves. Terms like ‘moral conduct’ do not 
necessarily fit the bill, therefore, as simply taking ‘action’, whether 
seen to be moral, immoral or amoral, may have been more important 
in some cases. 

Not surprisingly, the existence of this style of more egoistic than 
‘groupist’ hero has only been hinted at in English works on Japanese 
history or culture. Elowever, another commentator on Japanese hero- 
ism (unto death), Ia:i Buruma, actually calls this type of ‘rebel’ hero a 
‘nihilist’ in a sense that is vaguely related to Fumiko’s construction. 
Buruma’s main example of the ‘nihilist’ hero is from a postwar film 
genre about yakuza, yet there is much in his description of this popular 
hero that is suggestive of the appropriation by yakuza today of (real 
or imagined) samurai-Zen-Yomeigaku traditions. 'Nihirisuto' are 
admired in contemporary popular culture, he claims, because they 
are ‘cynics’ stripped of the ‘codes and rituals’ that usually keep them 
‘in check’, smashing their way through the ‘tight web of Japanese 
society’. 13 In a sense derived from Zen they are ‘ego-less’, victors 
over the mind/rationality and emotions (thus violent and ‘anarchic’), 
or in common parlance, ‘super-individualists’ in a society with little 
time for individualism. Setting aside Buruma’s rather reductionist 
assumptions about this monolithic society of conformists (for it 
seems that in Japar the price for being an individual is death!), we 
should note that thi s nihilist type of hero is not a recent phenomenon 
in Japanese history Buruma further defines his popular nihilist as 
one who seeks ‘enlightenment through the Way of the Sword’, one 
who is, moreover, violent, anti-social and bad. 14 There is an obvious 
contradiction in his suggestion that this ‘ego-lessness’ applies to 



Commentary: martyrs, nihilists and other rebel heroes 119 

‘super-individualists’, but what he is suggesting is in fact a popular 
representation of a hero who in ‘Zen’-style is ego-less because amoral. 

Buruma’s comments about the ‘nihilist’ hero bring to mind a some- 
what submerged point made by Albert Craig about amorality: 

In the basic Tokugawa ethic, loyalty was not justified primarily in . . . 
Confucian terms. Rather, it was based on the duty of a samurai to 
fulfil his obligations ( hoon ), a duty that was to be performed self- 
lessly ( muga ni). Thus, the same idea of loyalty, that on a scholarly 
level was sanctioned by the moral Confucian universe, was justified 
on a deeper level by a Buddhist concept of the annihilation of the 
self and the release from a universe or morality and immorality. 
In an everyday secular setting the annihilation of the self became 
the denial of the self. 15 

We might first note his acknowledgement of the way in which 
Buddhist ‘ego-annihilation’ came to be interpreted secularly in more 
Confucian terms as ‘selflessness’. But the crux of the matter is that 
self-annihilation is said to be equivalent to a ‘release from morality 
and immorality’. Broadly speaking, this is in keeping with both the 
Buddhist doctrine of amoralism whereby worldly morality is irrelevant 
and also modern European nihilism where social morality is rejected 
because oppressive to the individual. 16 

There is much in Buruma’s portrait of the Japanese ‘nihilist’ hero 
that is similar to descriptions of European nihilists. 17 This comes as 
no surprise, since the important sources of European nihilistic intellec- 
tual inspiration - Stirner, Nietzsche, Turgenev, Dostoevski - were 
popular in Japan. But together with Buddhist amoralism, there were 
in Japan other traditional sources for a ‘nihilistic’ form of heroism 
focused on the purity of the Act itself. However reworked it was 
over time, the dialectical approach in Mahay ana Buddhism to action 
as one with realization or liberation (the ‘oneness of means and 
end’) was almost certainly one of them. It is often said that in Zen 
liberation comes through practice, not conceptualization. Thus, for 
many in medieval Japan, practice came to be the measure of the life 
of both monk and samurai. According to Dogen, the thirteenth- 
century founder of Japanese Soto Zen: 

In the Buddha Dharma, practice and realization are identical. 
Because one’s present practice is practice in realization, one’s initial 
negotiation of the Way in itself is the whole of original realization. 
Thus, even while one is directed to practice, [one] is told not to 
anticipate realization apart from practice, because practice points 



120 Engagements with death 

directly to original realization. As it is already realization in prac- 
tice, realization if. endless: as it is practice in realization, practice 

is beginningless. 18 

As Abe Masao adds, ‘practice (“becoming pure”) and realization 
(“being pure”) are inseparable and dynamically one’. He emphasizes 
that the duality of ‘potentiality and actuality’ is overcome by Dogen’s 
‘oneness of practice and enlightenment’, as is the ‘duality of means and 
end’. 19 What this implies is an emphasis on the purity (hence in 
popular parlance, also the ‘sincerity’) of the action, whether we 
happen to be speaking of Zen meditation or secular, even political 
action. Regarding anorality, furthermore, if one sees things in terms 
of this ‘oneness of means and end’, a ‘Zen hero’ does not have to 
be, or be seen as, noble or evil in accordance with worldly morality, 
motivation or goals So, to return to the contemporary yakuza films 
Buruma discusses, what this can also imply is a pseudo-spiritual justi- 
fication for a genre that is extremely violent: for shedding the blood of 
others is not immoral, but ‘amoral’. Since purity comes to be asso- 
ciated with violent (but ‘sincere’) action, moreover, the act seems to 
symbolize a purification (not ‘pollution’) through bloodshed, as 
Buruma indicates. 

If one applies the notion of amorality and this monistic approach to 
means and ends to samurai patterns of heroism, which were undeni- 
ably influenced by Zen, it raises questions about the centrality of 
goals, causes and outwardly directed loyalties - all of which are 
usually said to have been central to the [sic] samurai code of ethics, 
honour and action. 10 If historians of Japan had not been so inclined 
to treat Confucian sm and neo-Confucianism as the sum total of 
samurai and ‘Tokugawa Ideology’, 21 respectively, a more complex 
and convincing picture of samurai codes, ‘Bushido-s’, might have 
emerged. Ivan Morris himself implies the one-sidedness of this 
Confucian-centred/. apan-as-‘groupist’ thesis (though soon loses sight 
of it) when he says of his noble, failed heroes that when facing 
defeat they would typically take their own lives - in order to ‘avoid 
the indignity of capture’, preserve their honour, and demonstrate 
their sincerity. 22 (Cutting oneself open, of course, was supposed to 
demonstrate the purity of the ‘heart’.) What is suggested is a rather 
individualistic approach to self-completion, self-assertion and even 
self-empowerment that is not necessarily so intimately bound up 
with mindless obed ence/‘loyalty’ to authority or group expectations, 
morality or causes as often argued. Morris even notes on occasion 
that his historical heroes did not bother to plan their actions or 



Commentary: martyrs, nihilists and other rebel heroes 121 

rebellion at all carefully, citing Mishirria Yukio (a Yomeigaku fan) 
who once said, ‘It is the journey not the arrival that matters.’ 23 

Therefore, while such historical heroes as are described by Morris 
faced and perhaps even ‘chose’ death, they need not be seen as 
‘tragic failures’. Connected with this Zen-derived equation of action 
with realization, whereby ultimate practical goals are deemed either 
irrelevant or secondary, we should recall that Fumiko mentioned a 
‘task in life’ that did not have to be ‘fulfilled’. 

Fumiko’s ego-assertion or fulfilment was the apparent opposite of 
the doctrinal Buddhist ‘ego-annihilation. But while it might have 
been largely inspired by the ‘egoistic nihilism’ of Max Stirner and an 
individualistic form of social Darwinism, her act of seeking within her- 
self for liberation was not entirely ‘foreign’. It is noteworthy that ten 
or so years earlier, Ito Noe had criticized her second husband, Tsuji 
Jun’s personal solution approach to politics; 24 this was a ‘nihilistic’ 
approach that was ostensibly modern, yet Tsuji himself identified the 
inspiration for his self-liberation as Stirner’s ‘sutra of the ego’! (Jiga 
no Kyo was the title he gave his translation of The Ego and His 
Own.) A highly individualistic, personal liberation approach to phil- 
osophy or politics in early twentieth-cenl ury Japan was certainly influ- 
enced by foreign ideas and behavioural models, but it raises once more 
the possibility of indigenous religio-philosophical inspiration. 25 The 
two broad approaches to enlightenment or salvation in Japanese reli- 
gion had long been jiriki (the self-empowered approach of Zen etc.) 
and tariki (the reliance on another’s power as in Pure Land schools). 
It is not difficult to see where the samurai emphasis on self-reliance 
and self-assertion in part originated. 

Thomas Huber hints at a deification of practice/action when he 
observes that for some shishi - literally men of will, not necessarily 
‘purpose’! - ‘romantic courage’ was more important than ‘political 
pragmatism’. This tradition would partly explain why later left-wing 
radicals would respect reactionary heroes like Saigo Takamori. 
E. H. Norman once noted that though many (ex-samurai) government 
leaders fell victim to violent attacks or assassination, the Meiji govern- 
ment did not really try to suppress groups of patriotic terrorists 
because such ‘sincerely motivated’ tactics were not so alien to Japanese 
samurai tradition. 26 ‘Sincerity’ was/is a quality admired in revolution- 
ary heroes, whether or not the admirers agree with their convictions, 
tactics or goals. Irokawa Daikichi notes the degree to which people’s 
rights advocates in the 1880s respected Kumoi Tatsuo, executed in 
1870 for having led discontented samurai in a plot to re-establish 



122 Engagements with death 

the shogunate. His pro-democracy admirers saw Kumoi as an example 
of ‘resolute revolutionary resistance’. 27 

Whatever the precise reasons for the popularity in certain circles 
in Japan today of revolutionary heroes like Suga and Fumiko, it is 
clear that the one styled herself more along the lines of a ‘noble’, 
self-sacrificing, idealistic and altruistic hero (for whom the collective 
group, revolutionary movement, the ‘people’ and even humanity 
were important); while the other represented herself as an amoral 
‘nihilist’ or egoist for whom a highly individualistic form of action/ 
resistance was more important than worldly goals or success. In 
Fumiko’s terms ends were the same as means. While we should 
remind ourselves at this point that her philosophy of political action 
probably owed much to European philosophies, none the less, the 
action-oriented vocabulary of Fumiko (or Suga) may well have been 
partly derived from Japanese philosophies and models of heroic action. 

Suga’s idealization of self-sacrifice for a principle, her revolutionary 
movement and the people seems more in keeping with Morris’ ‘noble’ 
hero. This, too, suggests indigenous influences, though once again we 
cannot ignore the importance of foreign models. She herself empha- 
sized that she had taken Sofia Perovskaya as a model for action, 
and Russian populists had exhibited the same sort of altruism as 
Meiji socialists who wanted to reform society for the ‘ordinary’ 
people. (John Crum 3 refers to this as typical Confucian-style elitism: 
the masses could not be expected to do anything for themselves. 28 ) 
As early as the 1880s there had been a spate of Russian nihilist 
novels published in Japan; also works specifically about the lives 
and fates of Russian terrorists. The assassination of Tsar Alexander 
II in 1881 by Perovskaya and others of the People’s Will had sparked 
a wave of interest in Russian populism: there were thirty-one works 
about nihilists published in Japan in 1881, and thirty-four in 1882. 29 
Still in Suga’s time, moreover, works at least partly about Russian 
populism were being produced (for example, Kemuriyama Sentaro’s 
Kinsei Museifushugi or Modem Anarchism, published in 1902). In the 
years that followed, Japanese radicals continued to look to Russia for 
inspiration, particularly in the area of tactics, no doubt increasingly so 
as repression intensified. Another reason for the increased interest in 
the doings of Russian revolutionaries in the middle of the first 
decade of the century, however, was the 1905 Russian Revolution. 
Crump discusses how, paradoxically, now there was again in Japan 
a spate of articles on the nineteenth-century Russian populists. 
In articles on Vera Zasulich, Perovskaya and others, socialists were 
urged to go ‘to the people’. 30 Given the regicidal example set by 



Commentary: martyrs, nihilists and other rebel heroes 123 

Perovskaya and others, it is not difficult to see why five years later 
Miyashita Daikichi, one of the small group of anarchists who, with 
Suga, was involved in plans to assassinate the Meiji emperor, said 
under interrogation that he had believed it to be impossible to realize 
socialism while a superstitious reverence for the imperial family per- 
meated society: ‘I made up my mind to first make a bomb and then 
throw it at the emperor,’ he said. ‘I had to show that the emperor 
too was a human being whom blood could flow from just like the 
rest of us.’ 31 

Contemporaneous gender constructions were probably among the 
factors that led Suga to accord self-sacrifice such value. According 
to Confucianism, women were expected to devote themselves entirely 
to their families, submitting first to the authority of fathers, then hus- 
bands, and finally eldest sons. This hardly changed once Japan entered 
the ‘modern’ era, except that from about mid-Meiji a renewed state 
and social androcentrism led to the d issemination to all classes of 
once-samurai patriarchal codes and for ms (in some areas an imposi- 
tion of them through law). Again the official attitude toward the 
social role of all women was a narrowly ‘private’/familial one, now 
expressed by the slogan, 'ryosai kenbo’ (‘good wife, wise mother’). 
The virtuous woman was still to be all that negative definitions of 
femininity in Buddhism, Confucianism, Bushido and so on had 
implied: in short, a non-person, since such constructions of feminine 
subjectivity had been centred upon an effacement of the self. 

Yet in Meiji the field to which women could devote their non-selves 
was widened. No longer was it a case of a woman’s having no ‘lord’ 
but her husband to deny herself for; now she could serve husband 
(and still his sons), father, and other paternal figures of authority 
right up to the father of the nation. The service now expected of her 
was to a whole range of masculine figures all rolled up into one 
grand patriarchal, national Cause. She was, moreover, officially dis- 
couraged in a variety of legal and other ways from playing any 
more ‘public’ a part in building a modern nation, unless of course it 
was in the direct service of nationalism and the emperor-system. 
Whilst political activity by women was outlawed in 1887 under the 
Peace Preservation Ordinance, the state from late Meiji defined the 
‘political’ narrowly to mean anything leftist or otherwise ‘unfeminine’ 
- in fact, women in a variety of acceptable political (e.g., nationalist) 
organizations were encouraged to keep up the good work. 32 If the 
‘family state’, in which the highest loyalty was due to the paternal 
figure of the emperor, appeared flexible in its definition of the public 
sphere, it was because in reality the only permissible ‘public’ role for 



124 Engagements with death 

woman now hinged upon an extension into public life of her private/ 
familial duty involving selfless, nurturing service. 

Suga was hostile toward the notion of ‘good wife, wise mother’, and 
once explicitly rejected the sexual double standard it implied, but even 
late in her life she did not seem particularly critical of the demand 
for self-denial it rested upon. In this she was quite unlike Fumiko 
who, certainly in this respect, was a much more thorough critic of the 
familist emperor-system ideology as it pertained generally to model, 
patriotic citizens; but Suga was not unlike some of the female Russian 
revolutionaries she so admired. In their search for a moral purpose to 
replace the earlier emphasis on devotion to the family, some seem to 
have redirected their self-sacrifice to a social and political level. 33 

It is possible that in 1909 Suga had had a desire to sacrifice herself 
for Kotoku. The circumstances of her publishing under her own name 
in 1909 (his) anarchist magazine Jiyu Shiso (Free Thought) will be dis- 
cussed in Part III, but there is little doubt that in this case she had 
placed a higher premium on Kotoku’s health, freedom and value to 
the movement. Both were quite ill with consumption, yet it seems 
that he would not have survived a prison term. However, it is likely 
that later she saw her sacrifice (for the cause) as a political one 
rather than a mereiy personal one for her common-law husband. 
During the trial, a; least, she represented her own (activist) and 
Kotoku’s (proselytist) contributions to the anarchist movement as dif- 
ferent but equal, for he was ‘a man of letters more suited to publicizing 
socialism than to carrying out radical measures.’ 34 
Selflessness was an ideal long in vogue in Japan, but in and after 
Meiji it took on dilferent ‘colours’. Earlier, martyrdom for a cause 
both revolutionary and nationalistic had been a common theme 
amongst people’s rights advocates as well as still earlier shishi, as the 
following ballad suggests: 

For our more than forty million countrymen, 
we’re not afraid of wearing convict red, 

Promote the national interest and the people’s welfare, 

Foster the people’s strength! 

And if we ca i’t, 

Dynamite, Boom! 35 

This interest in dynamite was probably partly inspired by the example 
of the Russian populists, but it was not such a great jump from sacri- 
ficing one’s life for the sake of the people (‘banmin no tame ’) in late 
Tokugawa, to dedicating it for the sake of the nation (‘ kuni no 
tame’) in and after Meiji. The latter was a phrase constantly used in 



Commentary: martyrs, nihilists and other rebel heroes 125 

Meiji nationalistic discourse. 36 And from there it was no great leap to 
dying for the sake of a principle or the cause (‘ shugi no tame'), a con- 
stant in revolutionary discourse in Suga’s time. 

The subject of political heroes’ being galvanized from apparent 
motives of selfless ‘nobility’ brings to mind the case of Kawakami 
Hajime, a prewar Marxist, who had first come to Christianity and 
socialism in late Meiji, at about the same time as Suga. He was 
attracted to the Christian teaching of ‘absolute unselfishness’, and cre- 
ated his own personal synthesis of Confucian selflessness, Buddhist 
egolessness, Christian unselfishness. Pure Land Buddhist ‘selfless love’ 
and, finally, also Marxist ‘sacrifice’ for the masses. 37 Later in the 1920s, 
Kawakami was criticized by young Communist Party members for not 
being enough of a materialist and for emphasizing sacrifice too much. 
(These communists had probably internalized the individualist anar- 
chist and nihilistic emphasis on jiga, the ego, more than they might 
have cared to admit.) It is significant that Kawakami, one of the 
older generation of radicals by the 1920s, would have laid so much 
emphasis on selflessness - and been criticized for it by younger com- 
rades. Clearly, by the 1920s the tensions between noble selflessness 
(muga) and a nihilistic assertion of the ego ( jiga shucho) had taken a 
clearer form within radical circles. Suga and Fumiko were very 
much the products of their respective political environments, since 
by Fumiko’s time social critics were probably more able to see clearly 
the uses to which self-abnegation could be put in the service of 
emperor, nation, economic productivity (for the nation), the family 
(as microcosm of the state), and so on. 

Akiyama Kiyoshi, a well-known anarchist theorist, has distinguished 
‘mere terrorism’ from nihilism in Japan on the basis of living for the 
sake of others (‘renouncing the ego’) versus recognizing and acting 
upon the subjectivity of the ego. The former, he argues, is mere senti- 
mentality and a philosophy of death, while the latter is a true philoso- 
phy of life: ego-preservation, in short, not ego-annihilation. 38 One can 
hardly fail to see the correlation between these remarks and Fumiko’s 
ultimate affirmation of both death and life, and her representation of 
death (through egoistic resistance) as life. It was noted above that the 
egoism that had gained popularity by Fumiko’s time was of a specific 
type, for individuality had come to be seen as necessarily a struggle 
for existence against the state. 39 This transition had nevertheless 
accompanied a shift from the revolutionary elitism of Meiji socialism, 
the self-sacrifice of leaders for the impotent masses, to the Taisho anar- 
chist attitudes of those like Osugi Sakae who had faith in the latter’s 
potential for self-liberation and were suspicious of intellectual or 



126 Engagements with death 

other elite leaderships. This trend was, in turn, challenged in radical 
sections of the socialist movement by authoritarian socialists, including 
communists, in the mid-1920s. But we should recall that Fumiko did 
not share Osugi’s idealization of the masses. No doubt this was one 
more way in which she not only identified herself with nihilism, but 
also distanced herself from anarchism. Neither her nihilism, however, 
nor Suga’s selfless ‘r obility’ had derived only from foreign sources; 
the two differed greatly in their constructions of heroic political 
action, but such differences had long been part and parcel of resistance, 
Japanese-style. 

A GREAT DEATH 

In Six Lives, Six Deaths Kato argues that the way one approaches 
‘dying well’ has in Japan been ‘defined by one’s membership in a par- 
ticular group’. 40 The statement seems somewhat tautological, but what 
is useful for my purposes is his discussion of premodern Japan’s ‘most 
important special group with its own rules for dying’: the Tokugawa 
samurai class. The tactics (assassination) both women advocated 
had much in common with samurai vendettas - but there is yet 
another way in which they might have been modelling themselves 
on samurai-style ‘rules for dying’, which is again related to a Zen or 
Buddhist concept, the ‘Great Death’. 

In speaking of ritual suicide as social control in Tokugawa, Kato 
notes that samurai not only had to be ‘prepared for death’ in order 
to be able to take responsibility for their own ‘offences to the com- 
munity’ or clan, or tie offences of others in the clan for whom they 
were responsible; they had to be determined to die putting to rights 
the wrongs committed by outsiders. Perhaps no other historical 
drama has so captured the popular imagination in Japan as Chushin- 
gura, one rendition o ' tales of the ‘forty-seven ronin’ who had in 1703 
avenged their lord before following him in death ( junshi ). This and 
other cases of ritual s uicide apparently inspired by loyalty to superiors 
- for example, that of General Nogi for the Meiji emperor in 1912 — 
came to be constructed as ‘models for patriotic behaviour’ in prewar 
and wartime Japan. 41 But also among the various reasons for volun- 
tary suicide in premodern times was registering a protest against an 
unjust decision or treatment by superiors 42 This was clearly influenced 
by the Confucian view of the right to rebel if rulers did not fulfil Odd , 
the ‘Great Way of Governance’, through their ‘heavenly mandate’ 43 
Needless to say, however, it was a conveniently inwardly directed 
form of rebellion. 



Commentary: martyrs, nihilists and other rebel heroes 127 

Kat5’s emphasis on conforming to group expectations of how one 
should die is part of the thesis that death in Japan has long been 
more often a group-oriented than individual event. While Lifton, 
Kato and Reich imply that samurai traditions were more likely to 
be individualistic in various ways, they fail to emphasize traditions 
in Japan that were strongly so: ‘self-empowered’ or self-determined 
paths to enlightenment in schools of Buddhism like Zen, for example; 
or the strong emphasis amongst samurai on personal honour, integ- 
rity, self-assertion and -completion. Nor do they note the tendency 
amongst peasant rebels or other commoners to appropriate such 
‘samurai’ individualistic traits, casting themselves in the role of 
noble warrior heroes and claiming virtues that were supposed to be 
the monopoly of the ruling class. Samurai were not, of course, the 
only popular heroes in Tokugawa Japan or later. To give but one 
example, the seventeenth-century peasant leader and political martyr 
(gimin), Sakura S5go, became a hero of kabuki plays in the nineteenth 
century. Both in Tokugawa and in Meiji, peasant rebels often acted in 
a fashion that samurai or former samurai clearly thought was their 
preserve. One farmer in the Chichibu uprising of 1884, for example, 
selected a posthumous Buddhist name to write on his headband 
before going into battle (against state and even emperor), and set off 
‘with no intention of returning alive’. 44 

Janet Walker expresses one aspect of traditional individualism in 
Japan well when she observes that, 

Zen, by stressing the individual’s personal experiencing of the truth, 
contributed to Japanese culture a concept of the individual as a free 
being somehow outside of or transcending the social hierarchy. This 
paradoxical idea that the individual was socially unfree though 
experientially free continued to affect Japanese culture even after 
Westernization began in the late nineteenth century. 45 

This ‘experiential freedom’, however, was not merely a concept, but 
rather an incentive to action. On occasion, even samurai resisted the 
social-ideological pressures to be loyal, obedient and conformist. 
People’s behaviour anywhere and at any time must surely conform 
in many respects to larger cultural or small group expectations, yet 
in other ways might be quite individual. Thus, ‘dying well’ in accor- 
dance with group expectations is in one sense particularly relevant 
to the case of Suga, for whom her revolutionary culture was very 
important. Not only Suga, but also Sakai Toshihiko and (like her) 
another defendant in the Meiji High Treason Case, Oishi Seinosuke, 
all expressed the conviction that some would have to die for the 



128 Engagements wi'h death 

cause. In fact, it was years before the treason incident that Oishi 
Seinosuke expressed the view that it was up to revolutionary leaders 
to sacrifice themselves: 

Of course, not all people would sacrifice themselves. But at least the 
leaders of the revolutionary movement will not be able to arrive at 
the heaven of the joyful new society without entering through the 
narrow gate which Christ talked about and accepting the heavy 
cross of suffering. 41 ’ 

There are various strands here that are pertinent to Suga’s construc- 
tion of death: revolut onary elitism; the common ideal of self-sacrifice 
for the cause, and the Christian influence upon that; and also the 
notion of a good (revolutionary) death. 

Suga might have exhibited an acceptance of group rules for dying, 
but in her diary she also gave the impression that she resented feeling 
constrained to act in ways deemed fitting for a revolutionary. On one 
occasion she dismissed ‘that special characteristic of Eastern heroes’, 
which was to suppress their ‘joy or anger’ and not reveal their ‘true 
feelings’. She went on to say that she did not care how others might 
measure her worth, suggesting that she did not care to conform to 
others’ expectations of her. In facing death, she was group-oriented, 
certainly, but not entirely so, just as Fumiko did not completely fit 
the egoistic role she cast herself in. Fumiko’s construction of dying 
well tended to be more individualistic, though she suggested at one 
point that her group of comrades (‘Pak’s friends’) thought Pak and 
herself ‘stupid’ - presumably for taking the unnecessary stand they 
did by refusing to deny their guilt, thus playing into the hands of 
the authorities. 47 Her implication was that their nihilist friends 
thought they were being unnecessarily ‘self-sacrificing’. The nihilists 
in Pak’s and Fumiko’s group seemed cynical about any hint of ideal- 
ism or altruism. Possibly, with Fumiko’s immediate group it was not 
so much a case of having rules for dying as a code of egoistic self- 
preservation that ma/ or may not have involved dying. 

One would expect a glorification of heroic death mainly by an elite 
class of charismatic warriors to continue to have a broad popular 
appeal in modern times, but samurai tradition was also part of both 
Suga’s and Fumiko’s family heritage. Fumiko, however, was utterly 
scornful of her father’s pride in his family’s pedigree and name. 48 
Her generation, of course, was farther removed from the days when 
samurai ruled than Suga’s. Suga and her comrades clearly did take 
samurai as models for their rebellion. During the trial there were fre- 
quent references to the fact that Kotoku and others had thought that 



Commentary: martyrs, nihilists and other rebel heroes 129 

Kumamoto in Kyushu would be a good place to recruit such deter- 
mined fighters. It had been a centre for samurai rebels opposed to 
the new Meiji regime. John Crump also remarks on how the shishi 
were ‘the ideal types on whom the Meiji socialists sought to model 
themselves’ (which partly explains their tendency to elitism). 49 

The samurai emphasis on ‘dying well’ had been influenced by the 
Zen idea of daishi or taishi ichiban (the ‘Great Death’; death of the 
ego or delusion in Buddhism), 50 which when secularized came to be 
interpreted as literally a great physical death. One model for samurai 
was the medieval Zen monk whose ‘equipoise’ in meeting death volun- 
tarily was illustrated in a vast number of stories about the ‘Great 
Death’. 51 Since fighting, warring and death were then the business of 
the samurai, it is not difficult to see how this concept would also 
come to have a somewhat different meaning in secular parlance. 
LaFleur gives some indication of how the term ‘Great Death’ has 
been used in Japan, in both a doctrinal and popularized sense, in 
this description of its influence upon ‘ways of the warrior’: 

The calm of the Zen monk’s mode of life as well as the equipoise 
with which great Buddhists ... met the end of their own lives 
had an obvious attraction for the warrior. . . . However, even if 
the ‘Great Death’ of the Buddhist monk served the samurai as the 
effective model for his own death in battle, it was the death of the 
samurai rather than that of the monk that appealed to the popular 
imagination. It was not the death of an aged monk voluntarily and 
calmly moving into death . . . but, rather, it was the swift death of 
a brave and young warrior in battle, an index to his bravery and 
loyalty to his lord, which became the primary model of a great 
death during the feudal period in Japanese history. In this context 
the aesthetics of dying had new importance. 52 

A reference to the romanticization of the deaths of kamikaze pilots 
during the Second World War is perhaps enough to illustrate the per- 
sistence of this sort of model, though the continued use of violence by 
radicals as ‘a means of government suasion’ through the Meiji era and 
beyond is also pertinent. 53 E. H. Norman noted the fact that Meiji 
inherited from the Tokugawa era, when there was no other means 
of ‘concerted political action’ available to samurai, ‘the weapons of 
the vendetta and assassination’. 54 

The above description of the ‘calm and equipoise’ in the face of 
death of monks and samurai makes more sense of the remark about 
‘Eastern heroes’ that Suga made when admonishing herself to be 
calm, resolute and in control of her feelings in the face of execution. 



130 Engagements with death 

When she then insisted that she would ‘cry, laugh, rejoice and rage’, 
however, she was not suggesting that she had not herself taken hold 
of death voluntarily. When Kato distinguished between elite and 
mass views of death in modern Japan, 55 paradoxically, he observed 
of the former that ‘in a way similar to the samurai elite, the self-control 
they show toward their individualized deaths depends on a sense of 
resignation’. This, however, is not the more group-oriented resignation 
leading to passivity, which is said to have characterized the common 
people. 

One often encounters an emphasis on the importance in Japan of 
the Buddhistic conception of akirame, a ‘resignation’ to one’s destiny. 
Partly for this reason, Tokugawa peasants are often characterized as 
having been passively resigned to their lot. 56 But akirame has long 
had two sides to it: there can be a ‘resigned acquiescence in resist- 
ance’. 57 The ‘apparent abandonment’ beneath an ‘exaltation of activ- 
ity’ or resistance referred to by Spae is not unrelated to Kato’s point 
about resignation making ‘self-control’ possible (the ability to take 
hold of one’s destiny), but the latter’s assumption that this has only 
been true of conventional social elites in Japan is questionable. I 
implied earlier that tl e cases of Suga and Fumiko suggest something 
about the difficulties inherent in defining what constitutes a member 
of an ‘elite’: unlike the six subjects studied by Lifton, Kato and 
Reich, both were women, neither were from fortunate backgrounds, 
they had both had little formal education, and were not even leaders 
in their political movements. Yet still their constructions of political 
action ‘unto death’ fi: Kato’s description of elite, individualistic self- 
control. Perhaps this is partly because the political authorities 
helped to create their in the role of antagonists, and thus equals (as 
they had peasant gimin earlier). 

VENGEFUL SPIRITS 

Assassination for motives of political revenge has almost certainly 
been common in all parts of the world. Yet Matsuda Michio once sug- 
gested that revenge-riotivated anarchist terrorism was a distinctive 
feature of Russia and Japan. 58 Some, like Alexander Berkman in the 
United States and August Vaillant in France, made attempts in the 
1890s on the lives cf individuals or groups they held responsible 
either for particular acts of repression or social iniquities more gener- 
ally. 59 Perhaps, therefore, Matsuda was thinking specifically of acts of 
vengeance in response to the legal or extra-legal murders of revolution- 
aries. The prime example of the latter is that of Osugi Sakae and Ito 



Commentary: martyrs, nihilists and other rebel heroes 131 

Noe, murdered by military police after the 1923 earthquake. There 
were a number of incidents of revenge-motivated anarchist terrorism 
in Japan in the mid-1920s. Furuta Daijiro of the Girochinsha or Guil- 
lotine Group of Osaka was ultimately hanged together with another 
member, Nakahama Tetsu; they had intended to exact vengeance 
for the deaths of comrades by assassinating the crown prince (and 
had gone to Korea to try to buy bombs with that aim in mind). 60 
There was another incident involving a Girochinsha member, 
Tanaka K5go, who was unsuccessful in his attempt to kill the 
nephew of Captain Amakasu Masahiko of the military police unit 
responsible for the murders of Ito and Osugi. Wada Kyutaro- and 
Muraki Genjiro, on the other hand, both of whom had been union 
activists in Osugi’s circle, tried to kill General Fukuda Miyataro, 
who had been the commander of martial law after the earthquake. 61 

In Japan’s own history of assassination for motives of revenge - 
from samurai in premodern times, through anti-foreign zealots in 
late Tokugawa and critics of Meiji government policies, to left- and 
right-wing radicals in the twentieth century - the rectification of evil 
was a common theme. In accounts of village movements for people’s 
rights in the 1870s and 1880s (as in accounts of peasant protest 
earlier), the idea of a need to purify, rectify or avenge ‘evil’ is often 
in evidence: the capital was the site of ‘the wicked and evil’; and 
‘evil rulers’ were to get the ‘heavenly punishment’ they deserved. 62 
Traditional influences may not have been necessary for a desire for 
revenge to become part of Suga’s or Fumiko’s representation of poli- 
tical action, however. Both accused society or the authorities of inflict- 
ing various sorts of torments upon them and their comrades or friends. 
Nevertheless, we cannot deny the extent to which heroic vendettas 
have been romanticized in Japan. One need hardly mention how 
common the theme of revenge had been in popular culture, in 
kabuki, bunraku, and so on. Moreover, goryo (restless, malevolent or 
vengeful spirits) have long been part of the Japanese pantheon. 63 
Such restless spirits are unable to let go of their attachment to life, 
sometimes because of their thirst for vengeance. In ages past goryo 
were enshrined and worshipped, partly in order to appease the desire 
for vengeance that came from their untimely, often unjust deaths. 64 

When in prison, Fumiko did not only imagine herself as ‘a vengeful 
spirit . . . paying evil in kind’; she also used the simile of a ‘demon’ 
when describing her earlier desire for revenge. In Korea she had 
been like a ‘little demon with a thorn lodged in [her]’: something 
had been nagging at her, needing to be attended to in order to ease 
her pain. 65 On more than one occasion she expressed a desire to 



132 Engagements with death 

avenge social inequities and evils. Apart from the imperial family (who 
symbolized inequality and were a screen for the real wielders of 
power), she did not target particular individuals as Suga said she 
had. Rather, Fumiko claimed she had once planned to throw a bomb 
into the midst of the ‘riff-raff’ or ‘rabble’ ( uzomuzo ) in the Imperial 
Diet. 66 

A desire for revenge amongst those who have suffered political 
repression is probably rather common anywhere. None the less, one 
can see how such a desire might be strengthened by indigenous tradi- 
tions of romanticized vengeance. Thus, whether or not revenge had 
been part of their original political motivation, once in prison 
Fumiko and Suga certainly did imagine themselves as avenging spirits. 
Perhaps, since neithe : had been able to exact their vengeance in this 
life, they both fantasized about being goryo in the next. What they 
each seemed to be saying to some unspecified audience was that if 
their opponents thought they had won this round, they might yet 
have a surprise in store. 

ROMANTICIZING DEATH 

The subjects both romanticized heroic political deaths in various ways. 
I have referred alreac.y to Suga’s early romanticization of revolution- 
ary ‘double suicide’. Closely connected with this, moreover, is an 
‘aestheticization’ of death evident in LaFleur’s description of the 
young warrior’s death. This, he adds, came to be equated in feudal 
times with the cherry blossom, a symbol of impermanence or the 
brevity of beauty: aesthetics, in other words, attenuates any violence 
that might be connected with death. Since in Japanese religious culture 
death and blood have represented pollution this also indicates a 
tendency to see such a beautification as equivalent to purification. 
(Buruma also implied something similar about the film genre he 
discusses.) 

Lifton, Kato and Reich note that Japan is often described as a 
‘death-haunted’ culture, meaning that in Japan it has been common 
to romanticize death and violence. 67 This is by no means peculiar to 
the Japanese (the tendency of European Romantics to romanticize 
death was remarked on earlier, and there are other obvious parallels 
in US, European, Australian or other popular culture/s today concern- 
ing a romanticization of violence). But an association of death with 
beauty is writ large among the imagery associated with Japan: charis- 
matic samurai cutting down all in their path; their vendettas and their 
ritual suicides; and also the erotic suicides of star-crossed lovers. Films 



Commentary: martyrs, nihilists and other rebel heroes 133 

about the martial arts also often feature a romanticization (partly a 
Zen-derived mystification) of violence. Earlier discussion of the 
‘experiential transcendence’ mode of symbolic immortality also indi- 
cated that there has long been a broad tendency in Japan to look 
for beauty in death or attempt to see it in aesthetic terms. We need 
not, however, find in the latter an ‘obsession’ with death-as-‘spectre’, 
but rather a natural human tendency to want to come to terms with 
death and accept its inevitability. 

Like countless others facing death within Japan and without, in 
modern times and earlier, both Suga and Fumiko looked for and 
found beauty or ‘joy’ in death - at least that is the impression they 
seemed to want to create. Suga had a romantic view of her heroic 
sacrifice for the cause, while Fumiko r everted to classical expressions 
of the ephemeral beauty of all things in nature. Both probably roman- 
ticized going to death together with their lovers, influenced no doubt 
by the popular tradition - in the performing arts and in reality - of 
double ‘suicide’. The above-mentioned Nietzschean ‘Bluestocking’, 
Hiratsuka Raicho, was in 1907 drawn to a novelist, apparently largely 
because of his talk of death and beauty, and there was a public scandal 
after they attempted double suicide. & Dying together, presumably, 
was meant to be the supreme act of rebellious love, as Suga once sug- 
gested. Yet while Suga in 1911 might have been about to die together 
with Kotoku physically, in her last few days she was clearly grieving 
over her recent estrangement from hint: 

We go 

to our graves 

you and I, 

our hearts estranged 

like the seas east and west. 69 

Also in the poem already cited about her being ‘kept up late in the 
night weeping with the pain of wounds, old and new’, it is possible 
that she was referring to his recent reconciliation with his wife. Suga 
often referred to K5toku in her diary, and may have had some conso- 
lation in the fact that, while they would not now be living out together 
what little remained of their lives, they would be going to death 
together. An indication of the many-layered nature of inspiration 
for such a romanticization of (‘revolutionary’) double suicide, more- 
over, is that Suga had earlier visualized this in quite ‘samurai’ terms, 
similar to a samurai’s committing seppuku or ritual suicide after a des- 
perate battle. She had even counterposed revolutionary shinju to the 
traditional ‘weak’ form of lovers’ suicide where couples typically just 



134 Engagements wi'h death 

gave in to social pressure: killing themselves, presumably, because 
social morality would not permit them to be together (a popular 
theme in the theatre). 70 Fumiko, too, often stated her intention to 
die with Pak. A general romanticization of ‘rebellion unto death’ - 
with their partners - was part and parcel of the representations of 
heroic political action and death of both women. 

CONCLUSION 

Lifton, Kato and Reich acknowledge that death symbolism can be ‘a 
source of vitality and continuity’: possibilities for ‘revitalization’ can 
be found amidst destruction. 71 They also comment on the use of 
death symbolism both by adherents of hegemonic emperor-system 
ideology (the case of General Nogi, for example) and by its opponents 
(revolutionary martyrs as inspirational models). Suga’s threat that 
anarchism or a future ideal society would be born from deaths like 
hers, or from the destructive-reconstructive task to which she and 
her comrades had been committed, is an example of such a revital- 
ization, as is Fumiko’ s emphasis on the need to check authority and 
domination through the individual’s self-assertion, rebellion and 
death. In their ‘engagements with death’, victims became victors, 
and death also became life; not only in terms of how they symbolized 
their own personal continuity despite the ‘annihilation’ of death, but 
also because death cane to represent social reconstruction. Ultimately, 
in both cases an affirmation of death meant also an affirmation of life. 

Suga and Fumiko were ‘haunted’ by death only in the sense that 
they tended to romaiticize it, like revolutionary ‘martyrs’ or rebel 
heroes anywhere. We do not need to ‘get inside their heads’ to suspect 
that this romanticization of heroic death must have played a part in 
their choice of tactics or political associations, as well as in their 
actions while in custody. Their representations of a political death 
drew upon both foreign and indigenous sources of inspiration which 
formed part of a broad discourse in Meiji and Taisho about radical 
political action. Themes such as self-sacrifice, revenge, the importance 
of acting, taking hold of one’s own destiny, the aesthetics of death and 
‘dying well’ were not specific to. Japan, but all had a special place in 
indigenous traditions In Fumiko’s case there are also signs of an 
‘ego-fulfilment’ that bad something in common with both a classical 
Buddhist vision of see king inside oneself for liberation and a modern 
conception of egoism. Many indigenous traditions were doubtless 
reworked through appropriations of foreign ideas or action-models 
perceived as similar: conceptions of Nature, amoralism, an idealization 



Commentary: martyrs, nihilists and other rebel heroes 135 

of selflessness, an exaltation of action, and also self -empowered 
approaches to ‘salvation’ or liberation. 

In sum, neither grand theories about ‘Oriental pessimism’ and East- 
ern ‘unitary visions of life and death’, nor holistic notions about the 
group-orientation or the pattern of heroism of the Japanese are of 
much use in interpreting the complex, many-layered meanings ascribed 
to death by individuals like Suga and Fumiko. Nor, to my mind, 
would a psycho-biographical approach be if it meant reducing such 
meanings (or motivations) to ‘youthful identity crises’, ‘death-wishes’ 
or ‘survivor guilt’. 72 What needs constantly to be borne in mind 
when reading their writings on death is the fact that such texts were 
mostly produced in prison under threat of death. Evidently, the 
approaches to death of different individuals are determined as much 
by their immediate circumstances as by the religio-philosophical and 
political cultures of which they are a part. There is no doubt that 
the subjects’ testimonies and actions in prison were often meant to 
wrest from society and the state the significance of their own deaths 
- and lives. And it is to the latter that I turn next to see how each con- 
structed herself as a victim of society, yet in so doing, seemed to be 
trying to empower herself. It is clear that the theme of victimization 
was used as a weapon by both Suga and Fumiko against androcentric 
nation-narratives that to live in Meiji or Taisho Japan was to live 
amidst a ‘familial harmony’ that came of benevolent (imperial and 
other) paternalistic rule. Herman Oorns has observed that this was a 
deception that had its roots in Tokugawa; and if ideology then was 
‘a continuation of warfare with other means’, 73 a war of ideas was 
just what Suga and Fumiko were engaged in when they put forward 
what they saw to be the realities of Fife. 




Part III 
Life-narratives 




7 Kanno Suga (1902-1911) 


TEXTS AND CONTEXTS 

Biographical descriptions of Kanno Suga’s childhood have drawn 
upon the ‘semi-autobiographical’ novelette of 1902, ‘Omokage’ 
(‘Memories’), the heroine of which was named Akiko. There are a 
few parallels between information contained in it and a very brief 
account Suga gave of her background during the trial, but there is 
no doubt that her youth is more a matter for speculation than has 
often been admitted. 1 Because it is often difficult to ascertain whether 
details about her youth and early career have been derived only from 
her ‘semi-autobiographical’ writings, here secondary sources will be 
treated with caution in attempts to piece together contextual infor- 
mation about her background. The strength of autobiographical tradi- 
tions in Japanese literature partly explains this assumption that Suga’s 
stories about Akiko or Tsuyuko were actually about herself. But even 
if we could justify on these grounds treating such works as factual, 
problems like the extent of political or dramatic licence would still 
remain. There is also the issue of to what degree her hindsight moulded 
her retelling of events that had occurred years before. These are 
problems inherent even in autobiography where authors explicitly pro- 
claim the truth of their ‘own’ life-stories. Yet in a project where one’s 
concern is rather with how the subject represented the reality of life - 
whether her ‘own’ lived reality, or that of fictional characters like 
Akiko and Tsuyuko - such issues are not so problematic. When 
one’s object is not the reconstruction of a life, but rather an interpre- 
tation of narratives about life, a consideration of political purpose is 
not only an intrinsic part of the interpretation, but also helps to 
bring into sharper relief the contexts in which the subject wrote. 

Before turning my attention to texts written by Suga between 
1902 and 1905, I should first to make some observations about the 



1 40 Life-narratives 


discursive context and literary style of her works. Doing so should also 
explain why scholars have been happy to assume that heroines named 
Akiko or Tsuyuko were the historical Kanno Suga. Suga’s narrative 
style was influenced by two distinct but related streams in Japanese 
literature, one of which was the modern shi-shosetsu or confessional 
‘I-novef about to emerge as a recognized genre. A strongly introspec- 
tive tendency had partly been inspired by the enthusiasm for indi- 
vidualism amongst Meiji intellectuals; also by the strong tendency in 
Japanese naturalism toward confessional self-exposure (equated with 
rebelling against society). 2 Donald Keene says of the Japanese 
‘I-novef that it is ‘a story so closely based on personal experiences as to 
be a kind of dramatized diary’. 3 Yet Keene’s emphasis on the preser- 
vation of true experience seems a little too positivist when contrasted 
with Noriko Mizuta Lippit’s emphasis on irony and self-dramatization 
in I-novels. She also notes that Japanese literary critics have consis- 
tently identified these confessional novels with the actual lives of the 
authors. This, no doubt, has contributed to historians’ readiness to 
treat Suga’s ‘fiction’ as fact. 

The other stream in Japanese literature that influenced Suga’s style 
was ‘female-school literature’, which formed the basis of modern auto- 
biographical writing in Japan, and had its beginnings about 1 ,000 years 
ago. 4 Lippit and Kycko Iriye Selden note that women then developed 
the poetic diary in which they recorded ‘their private thoughts, 
feelings, and observs tions of the people around them’. This sort of 
‘private, autobiographical writing’ was one important influence upon 
the development of Japanese fiction. They add, however, that in 
modern times the existence of a distinct, recognized school of women’s 
literature became restrictive because female writers have been expected 
to confine their writing to private autobiographical works about their 
personal feelings, relationships and commitments. The greater propor- 
tion of Suga’s early works do fit this description. Even some later arti- 
cles that one would expect to be ‘impersonal’, from their explicitly 
political titles and subject-matter, are in fact descriptive narratives of 
particular incidents in the heroine’s life and how she personally 
responded to them. Yet Suga, no doubt, would have agreed that 
‘the personal is political’, much like the proletarian literary movement 
writer, Sata Ineko, who later ‘strove to combine a [political] vision of 
her society with the exploration of the emotional needs of the 
individual’. 5 

Almost all of the texts Suga wrote during her early career as a jour- 
nalist were published under her pen-names: ‘Sugako’, or ‘Yuzuki-joshi’ 
later shortened to ‘Yuzuki-jo’, ‘Yuzuki’, ‘Yu’ or ‘Tsuki’. ‘Sugako’ she 



Kanno Suga (1902-1911) 141 


wrote in Chinese characters with a sense of congratulation or celebra- 
tion, which perhaps referred to her debut in journalism. Itoya Toshio 
notes that five years later in 1907, Suga was one of only two women 
working as journalists in Tokyo. Yuzuki-joshi’ might be best rendered 
as ‘Madam Hazy Moon’ (‘ joshi ’ does not signify marital status), the 
character for ‘yu’ having a sense of the supernatural or, since here it 
was used in a pen-name, mystery or secrecy. Suga seldom signed her 
surname to her works, and at times unrecognizable pseudonyms 
must have been meant to obscure her identity further. Her writings 
were, on occasion, implacably hostile toward fathers, stepmothers or 
mothers-in-law. Given that some of her works were at least partly 
inspired by her personal experience, sometimes she would have 
wanted to avoid public recognition of her authorship. Yet Suga 
wanted her readers to know that she was a woman - perhaps to indicate 
privileged knowledge about the topic she most often wrote about in one 
way or another, women, or simply because she was proud of her 
unusual achievement. If she had not wanted her audience to know 
that she was female, she would not have signed herself in ways that 
were gender-specific. ‘Yuzuki-jo’ was her most common signature at 
this time. 


1902-1905 

Addressing intemperate gentlemen and chaste ladies 

Suga’s writing career began in mid- 1902, the year in which she turned 
21. By the time she became a journalist, she had left and divorced her 
husband, Komiya Fukutaro. She had been married in September 1899 
and left the Komiya (merchant) family in January 1902. 6 At the 
request of her invalid father, Kanno Yoshihige, she left Tokyo to 
return to their home region of Kansai with him and her younger 
sister. Hide. Suga said under interrogation in 1910 that she had mar- 
ried into a merchant family, but ‘loved reading and disliked business’, 
so two and a half years later she left her marriage on the ‘pretext’ of 
nursing her father. 7 

The family managed to survive somehow for half a year with Suga 
working to support them. In the meantime she had come to know her 
brother’s patron, an influential playwright, and asked him to help 
her become a novelist. Udagawa Bunkai must have been surprised 
at her petition: firstly, she was a woman, and, in addition, she had 
had only an elementary school education, and no relevant work 



142 Life-narratives 

experience. It is poss ble that Suga had worked as a nurse, a hair- 
dresser, and done some factory work, 8 though the source of this infor- 
mation about her former occupations might have been her ‘semi- 
autobiographical’ stories. Udagawa, in any case, overlooked her lack 
of formal education, and she embarked on her literary training in 
the usual fashion, as an apprentice. With his recommendation she 
was able to start writing for a small, relatively conservative newspaper, 
Osaka Choho ( Osaka Morning Report ), at the beginning of July. In this 
paper she published rovelettes as well as social commentary. 

Before turning my attention directly to ‘Omokage’, a story osten- 
sibly narrated to the writer, Sugako, by Akiko, I should first note 
that Suga wrote that the heroine had been born into a wealthy 
family, the eldest daughter of a mining entrepreneur whose business 
later failed. 9 This story has therefore been treated as autobiographical 
because when Suga was interrogated in 1910, she said that her family 
had been very wealthy until she was 10 years old, but then the mine 
operated by her fathe:' failed and the family became destitute. Arahata 
Kanson said much the same thing about her childhood. 10 

In ‘Omokage’ Akiko’s mother was said to be delighted with her new 
daughter, but, becar.se the little girl was thought very plain, the 
mother was taunted by her female in-laws. The mother must have 
done something terrible in a past life to invite the karmic retribution 
of an ‘ugly’ daughter. She consoled herself by vowing to raise her 
daughter to be a well-educated, refined young lady. But her work 
was cut out for her, as the little girl soon proved to be a ‘tomboyish’ 
child who resisted he- mother’s attempts to ‘pretty her up’ with ‘fem- 
inine clothes and sweet hairstyles’. The mature Akiko was critical of 
the fact that people had often said she was a ‘cute’ child only because 
of her splendid outfits. Society, she complained, judged girls only by 
their ‘external appearance’. Akiko observed that though little girls 
then were brought up to be feminine and sweet, there had not been 
much chance of her becoming a conventional young lady: ‘like 
father, like child’, she had been ‘eccentric’ from an early age. Here 
the author seemed to be lauding a father for unconventional traits, 
yet she would soon change her tune. 

The heroine’s narration of the story of her childhood largely dwells 
on her early years as the pampered child of a rich family with a 
number of servants. Much to the chagrin of the young Akiko, she 
was seldom allowed out of the nursemaid’s sight, all the more so 
after nearly being drowned in the river nearby while playing with 
the local boys. Still, much of ‘Omokage’ is about the general content- 
ment of a small child loved and spoiled by her mother. Why then, we 



Karmo Suga (1902-1911 ) 143 


wonder, is the heroine introduced by the writer as a young woman 
whose life had been wretched, for family and society had caused her 
‘nothing but pain and misery’? 11 Clearly, Akiko’s troubles must 
have begun when her father’s mining business failed and the family 
sank into poverty. Suga continued this ‘riches to rags’ story by 
explaining that there were times when there was no food, and they 
huddled together for warmth on cold nights. Yet the father was ‘stub- 
born and inflexible’: he had ‘sworn not to give up mining as long as he 
lived’. 12 To make matters worse, the mother had been seriously ill even 
before the business failed. 13 (Suga said during that same testimony in 
1910 that she had lost her mother, Nobu, when she was 1 1, a year or so 
after her father’s business went into decline.) 

‘Omokage’ reveals that Suga in 1902 already had a critical view of 
her world and a quite developed ‘feminist’ consciousness. Her remarks 
on attire and physical beauty as the most important criteria for judge- 
ment of a girl’s merit have a decidedly modern ring to them, as do her 
complaints about Akiko’s being forced into what we would now refer 
to as a stereotyped sex-role. ‘Gender-bias’ was clearly an important 
concern of hers at this time, and there aire early hints of what certainly 
amounted in her later works to a thorough critique of a ‘patriarchal’ 
familial system. Here we see women and children suffering because 
of the pride and selfishness of a father, whose decisions brook no 
argument. We see the young wife suffering the effects of the patrilocal 
aspect of a partriarchal system, tormented by the women bn the pater- 
nal side of the family. The ways in which the family and social system 
made women suffer was a theme that Suga would often return to in 
other works, ostensibly only literary or personal, where she again 
took the opportunity to proselytize. 

In Suga’s professional life at this time she was involved with a rather 
different sort of father-figure, Udagawa Bunkai, her literary patron. 
She was hospitalized for a week in early November 1902 with dysen- 
tery and, in a serialized non-fictional article explicitly about herself, 
‘Isshukan’ (‘One Week’) published shortly after, she referred to an 
unnamed ‘master’ or ‘teacher’ who could only have been Udagawa. 
This was a man who visited her (‘Sugako’) in hospital, arranged nur- 
sing for her, looked after her father and sister in her absence, and, 
finally, also gave her advice about how to improve her writing skills. 14 
It was with his encouragement she first read the Bible while in hospital. 
It is clear that Udagawa was kind to her, for the emotions Suga 
expressed in ‘Isshukan’ range from esteem and gratitude to real affec- 
tion for this mentor. 



144 Life-narratives 


A lack of evidence notwithstanding, it has generally been assumed 
that Suga became the lover or ‘mistress’ of her married, disfigured 
and much older patron. 15 Some authors, moreover, take as given 
Arahata Kanson’s story that she did so because of the professional 
and economic assistance he could offer her. 16 As Sievers notes, this 
jilted lover of Suga’s has been the source of historical ‘knowledge’ of 
her promiscuity and lack of literary talent, but I would also attribute 
to him her reputation for being mercenary and manipulative. Suga, 
according to him, ‘sold’ herself to Udagawa in return for professional 
and economic assistance. 17 Depicting her life in Osaka as ‘dissolute’, 
he said she had had to rely on her teacher’s help and ‘pay for it 
with her chastity’; and then after becoming a journalist she ‘fell into 
despair’, sinking ‘deeper and deeper into a life of debauchery’, drifting 
from one love affair to another. 18 His tale of Suga’s ‘debauched’ life in 
Osaka ended on the note that she soon developed an ‘abhorrence for 
herself and drew closer to Christianity’. But if Suga had been exploited 
sexually by Udagawa, in turn using her sexuality to gain material 
benefits, her writings about her patron in 1902 (or later) contain no 
hint of it. Even if we would not expect them to, need she have been 
quite so expansive in her praise of him? Would she have written 
about him at all, especially in such a glowing way if, as Arahata indi- 
cated, her colleagues suspected her to be his ‘mistress’? Arahata’s 
account is of interest largely because of what his attitudes reveal 
about conventional sexual double standards then - even amongst 
socialists later since his memoirs were written decades after these 
events. 

What is even more interesting is that Arahata’s account raises the 
possibility that Suga inadvertently helped to construct an historical 
view of herself as immoral, by confessing certain things to her readers 
or by not choosing confidants very carefully. It is possible that his 
account of her relationship with Udagawa was derived from Suga her- 
self, either directly or indirectly. Arahata said that in 1908 a journalist 
who had known her five years before in Osaka told him about her 
‘past’. 19 However, he also said that ‘on the whole’ he had heard 
about her ‘debauched’ background after their own separation, so we 
cannot know how much of the information offered by this unnamed 
journalist was gossip, and how much (if anything) came from Suga 
herself. Had this anonymous journalist impressed upon Arahata in 
1908 how fortunate he was to be out of the clutches of this woman 
who was so well-versed in ‘seduction’? 20 The tone of Arahata’s 
account of Suga’s history is rather reminiscent of the tales of the 
sexual adventures o' the famous ‘evil’ women of Meiji scandal-sheet 



Kanno Suga (1902-1911) 145 

literature. 21 It also sounds much like a Buddhist sermon on women as 
temptresses, ‘daughters of evil’ who lure men away from the paths of 
purity, ensnaring them in the polluted world of desire and delusion. 22 
As Suga’s own writings in 1902 only indicate that she then felt a 
respectful affection for her ‘teacher’, therefore, it would be ironic if, 
by confiding later doubts about the relationship to a friend, she herself 
contributed to the historical view of their ‘mercenary’ relationship. 
Even if she had been his lover, her early writings contradict such a 
view of her motives. Assuming for the moment that she had been, if 
she did become critical of her own motives, it must have been after 
some profound changes in her thinking and situation had occurred. 
It is possible that the Suga of later years was too hard on the Suga 
of 1902. ‘Autobiographers’ are not necessarily the kindest judges of 
their own character or motives, especially when it means applying 
new moral-political attitudes to previous actions or episodes in their 
lives. 

Whatever the exact nature of Suga’s relationship with her patron, it 
lasted till well after May 1903 when she joined the Christian-influenced 
Osaka Moral Reform Society; and well after she was baptized that 
November in Osaka’s Tenmabashi. She said in 1910 that she had 
studied with her teacher for about two years (thus until about mid- 
1904); and a story she wrote in December 1904 and January 1905 
referred to visiting ‘my teacher, Master Udagawa’ due to ‘an urgent 
need to consult with him’. They were probably not estranged until 
after early 1905. Shimizu suggests that their estrangement was because 
of Suga’s new political commitments. Udagawa, however, was reported 
by Heimin Shinbun late in 1904 to be sympathetic to socialism. 23 If she 
did become critical of herself because sexually involved with Udagawa, 
it may have been more because of her new connections with Christian 
groups. Sievers notes that one of the Society’s activities was an anti- 
concubinage campaign to defeat parliamentary candidates who had 
concubines, and also argues that Suga's connection with the Society 
was consistent with their goals - the personal and economic indepen- 
dence of women - and that her experience as a ‘mistress’ was not 
unlike that of leaders of the Society. 24 Therefore, if we can assume 
that Arahata’s story had some basis in fact, we can see how Suga 
might have developed a moral distaste for the life she was leading, if 
only because she was a married man’s ‘concubine’, not necessarily 
because of her ‘mercenary motives’ or ‘promiscuity’. 

Even if Udagawa had not been her lover, however, she was still 
dependent upon his influence at this time, and it is noteworthy 
that it was only later that she expressed frustrations with a lack of 



146 Life-narratives 

professional autonomy. It seems that personal-economic autonomy 
for women was not as high on her early list of priorities as we might 
assume from a familiarity with her later works. Her construction in 
1902-1905 of the realities under which women lived and worked was 
far from a systematc critique of patriarchy. Arahata might have 
been correct about unhappiness in her personal life helping her to 
gravitate toward Christianity. The only clear indication in her early 
written works of the reasons for her attraction to Christianity and 
the Moral Reform Society, however, was that she shared with them 
a commitment to charitable works, and social reform, ‘temperance’- 
style. 

One social ‘vice’ that both Suga and the Society were deeply com- 
mitted to fighting was legalized prostitution, and she shared with 
these genteel women a tendency ‘to castigate the “fallen woman’”. 25 
The tone of Suga’s articles on ‘prostitutes’ in 1903 was of moral 
outrage. The event that outraged her was an officially sponsored expo- 
sition to promote industry held in Tennoji, Osaka, where the entertain- 
ment included dancing and singing by geisha. 26 In Suga’s view and 
that of many of her contemporaries, being a geisha was tantamount 
to being a prostitute. She denounced this entertainment by ‘prosti- 
tutes’ as a ‘defilement of the dignity of the exposition’; it ‘dishonoured 
the nation before the eyes of foreign visitors’, so she called on the 
ladies and gentlemen of Osaka to co-operate in banishing the ‘prosti- 
tutes’ from the exposition. 27 Both in her tendency to berate ‘fallen 
women’ and in her concern with how Japan might appear to foreign 
visitors, Suga’s views resembled both the Reform Society and earlier 
Meirokusha. From the 1870s when some of these early liberals cham- 
pioned the rights of legal wives while blaming Japan’s parlous moral 
state on concubines and prostitutes, monogamous marriage had 
been deemed one of the hallmarks of Western-style ‘civilization and 
enlightenment’. 28 

Suga depicted public dancing by geisha as an affront to respectable 
women, and argued that geisha entertainment lowered the tone of 
the exposition. Furthermore, she suggested rather cynically that for 
Christians to participate in such an exposition lowered the tone of 
Christianity. This was not the place for missionaries to attract 
serious-minded converts, only people who would treat it as the day’s 
entertainment. 29 In her early works, there is more than a hint of 
moral judgement and elitism: implicitly in the tone she adopted 
about certain lower classes of people; explicitly in the concerns that 
seemed closest to ler heart, like preventing impure women from 
flaunting their shame in public. 30 But this notwithstanding, Suga saw 



Kamo Suga ( 1902-1911 ) 147 


this campaign as part of the broader fight against prostitution, which 
recalls Sievers’s remarks about the attitudes of the ladies of the 
Reform Society toward the ‘traffic in women’: 

Then, as now, any discussion of the ‘traffic in women’ led inevitably 
to much wider criticism of the place of women in the society as a 
whole. What began as an apparent critique of Japanese society, 
voiced by women whose Christian morality was offended, easily 
became a feminist argument about the exercise of male privilege 
and the repression of women in the society. 31 

In Suga’s case, however, this sort of progression was not so fast nor so 
complete a change as Sievers’ words might suggest. In many cases, no 
doubt, the Christian moralist and women’s emancipationist continued 
to coexist in the one person. It was not until the first half of 1906 that 
Suga started to call for thoroughgoing social change. None the less, 
when we compare the Suga of 1903 wi th the Suga of 1906, there are 
some significant differences. Earlier she was not at all consistent in 
countering idealized constructions of society, or woman. 

Prostitution was an issue that many social reformers were concerned 
about at that time. At a lecture meeting that Suga attended in April 
1903, one speaker, Shimada Saburo, delivered an address on the 
need to close the ‘red light’ district in Osaka. Suga wrote that she 
spoke with Shimada after the meeting and at his suggestion attended 
a socialist meeting the following evening where the Christian socialist, 
Kinoshita Naoe, raised (at Suga’s request) the issue of the official use 
of geisha entertainment at the exposition. Overjoyed that she had two 
such ‘influential allies’ in Shimada and Kinoshita, Suga ‘listened atten- 
tively’ to the rest of the latter’s lecture on socialism. 32 This was Suga’s 
first contact with socialists, and there was an impressive line-up of 
speakers that evening, among them Kotoku Shusui. But from her 
reports of the meeting in the newspaper, it was clearly the Christian 
socialist, Kinoshita, who most inspired her. Suga developed an aware- 
ness of socialism from this meeting; nevertheless, she still had deeper 
interests and commitments in other areas at least until the latter part 
of 1904. In May 1903, just over a month after the meeting, she for- 
mally joined the Moral Reform Society, and later became one of its 
full-time workers. 


CalUng on pacifist patriots! 

Suga continued to write and publish throughout 1903 despite the fact 
that her former newspaper had ceased publication in April, but now 



148 Life-narratives 

she was an occasional contributor to the two religious magazines: 
Michi no Tomo (Tenrikyo) and Kirisutokyo Sekai (Protestant). Since 
Udagawa was the editor of the former, once again it was through 
his influence that she could contribute to it, which might have led to 
feelings of frustration at still being dependent upon his assistance. 
Whatever the precise reasons for her attraction to the Reform Society 
and Christianity, it is likely that her search for new inspiration and 
commitments was connected with her own personal situation - 
whether because of siame at her own ‘moral laxity’, or more because 
of frustration over her inability to be independent, even in a occupa- 
tion that (for women) was well paid. Alone, she might have been 
better able to survive, but she was still supporting her father and 
sister. Her salary as a journalist while at Osaka Choho was higher 
than wages for the more usual occupations for women, but women’s 
wages then were only about a third of men’s. 33 

Between the end of 1903 and the first half of 1905 some of Suga’s 
writings were about war. The Russo-Japanese War did not formally 
begin until early in 1904, but from about 1901 the two countries had 
been in contention over their respective spheres of influence in 
Manchuria and Korea. War was officially declared by Japan on 
10 February 1904, listing until the Portsmouth Treaty was signed 
on 5 September 1905. Four days after Suga published a seemingly 
pacifist short story entitled ‘Zekko’ (‘Severed Relations’) in October 
1903, two of the most prominent socialists in Tokyo, Kotoku Shusui 
and Sakai Toshihiko, resigned from the newspaper they worked for 
over its change to a pro-war stance. 34 When Kotoku and Sakai 
began in November to publish a daily anti-war paper, Heimin Shinbun 
{Commoners’ News), Suga became one of its readers. As a member of 
the Reform Society, she probably already saw herself as a pacifist. 

Most writers have set out to trace the origins of Suga’s political 
career, and have thus looked (teleologically) for her most explicitly 
‘political’ writings - those that would present a neat picture of how 
she logically developed into an anarchist. Suga the anarcho-terrorist 
of 1908-1911 has overshadowed Suga the moral reformer, Christian 
‘pacifist’ and nationalist of 1902 to about 1905. Commentators on 
Suga’s political career therefore treat ‘Zekko’ as the most significant 
of her works in 1903-1904. 35 Kondo Tomie claims that the socialist 
meeting in April 1 901! had so deep an influence on Suga that her sub- 
sequent writing exhibited a new authority and confidence. 36 But, if an 
inspiration from socialism had been the cause of this, we would expect 
to see some sign of it in her works in this period, even if the two maga- 
zines she was writing in were religious ones. 



Kanno Suga (1902-1911) 149 


Socialism was not the only new influence upon Suga, nor yet the 
deepest. Thus, the style of her writings on the war is of either a Chris- 
tian or humanist (rather ambivalent) ‘pacifist’: there is no sign of 
socialist arguments against imperialistic, capitalistic warmongers, or 
for proletarian internationalism. If she was familiar with socialist writ- 
ings on the war through the Heimin Shinbun, it is difficult to see any 
distinct influence from it. 37 One would have to look very hard for 
any mention, much less discussion, of socialism in these articles of 
Suga’s. They oppose the war (rather inconsistently) on moral grounds, 
expressing support for ‘our boys over there’ and sympathy for their 
families, sometimes with a patriotic tone about somehow restoring 
peace in the Orient by ‘doing one’s bit’ to raise money for the war. 
Suga was not entirely enthusiastic about what she termed the ‘splen- 
did’ labours of the Women’s Patriotic Association (Aikoku Fujinkai), 
however, for she did say that it was complacent to think that one was 
doing enough to support the war effort just because one had joined 
such an organization. Women could work for the war by nursing, 
tightening their belts etc., so that Japan would no longer have to 
endure insults from the likes of Russia. 38 In this respect she was 
little different from Yosano Akiko who in September 1904 published 
her in/famous (‘anti-imperial’) poem begging her little brother not to 
die in the war. As much as Yosano hated war she apparently believed 
that everyone in Japan had to work toward a quick Japanese victory 
and peace. 39 Similarly, there is little doubt about Suga’s nationalism 
in ‘The War and Women’, published six months after ‘Severed Rela- 
tions’. She did, however, use the necessity of self-sacrifice for the 
nation in time of war as an argument against men’s keeping concu- 
bines or visiting (still ‘shameful’) prostitutes. 40 The money men spent 
in such pursuits could have been put toward the war effort. Even if 
she was using the issue of the war as a forum for bringing women’s 
issues to the fore, this was far from a systematic critique of imperialism 
or patriarchy; and her patriotic tone cannot be explained away by 
reference to editorial self-censorship (because of the threat of a post- 
publication ban on the magazines). It was not until April 1904 that 
the most radical opponents of the war, the Heiminsha, had their 
paper banned. The tone of the Heimin Shinbun was cautious, certainly, 
but hardly nationalistic. 

The title, ‘Severed Relations’, refers to an argument between two 
teenage girls about the likely war with Russia. One, the daughter of 
a pastor, musters various arguments against war, the most significant 
being that there can be no ‘righteous’ cause for it; for war implies a 
descent from civilized to ‘barbaric’ behaviour. 41 At the end of the 



1 50 Life-narratives 


story, the younger sister of one of the Sino-Japanese War heroes, 
flounces off in disgust, announcing that she will have no more to do 
with the Christian pacifist: a ‘cowardly, disloyal’ traitor with no under- 
standing of the Japanese spirit because of her foreign religion 42 . A ‘true’ 
Japanese could not stand by while Japan was ‘shamed’ or under threat. 
In this story, a connection between pacifism and Christianity is asserted 
by the Christian, though she admits that not all Christians are pacifists. 

If Suga had been writing this after the war, she would have had 
more time to become critical of the weakness of Japanese Christians’ 
commitment to pacilism. Kotoku, for example, wrote of the Japanese 
socialists’ eventual disillusionment with Christianity in a letter (in 
English) dated 18 December 1906: 

The Japanese diplomatists . . . suddenly began to put on the mask 
of western civilization, and eagerly welcome and protect [Christian- 
ity], and use it as a means of introducing Japan to European and 
American powers as a civilized Christendom. On the other hand, 
Christian priests, taking advantage of the weakness of the govern- 
ment, got a great monetary aid from the State, and under its protec- 
tion they are propagating in full vigor the Gospel of Patriotism. 
Thus Japanese Christianity, which was before the war the religion 
of [the] poor, [has] literally now changed within only two years to a 
great bourgeois religion and a machine of the State and militarism! 43 

Many Japanese Christians supported the war in return for a new 
respectability that replaced the grudging recognition on the part of 
the Meiji oligarchs of a now inevitable Christian presence in Japan; 
which largely explains why the early Christianity-socialism symbiosis 
did not last beyond the war. 


To readers with compassion 

To round off this section on Suga’s early texts, I shall turn to two 
pieces which are connected by allusions in each to rape. One is another 
serialized ‘semi-autobiographical’ novelette by Suga (this time, 
‘Yuzuki’) that has commonly been treated as factual. ‘Tsuyuko’ 
(November 1905-March 1906) is about a marriage arranged for 
Tsuyuko by her father. The other, earlier text of July 1902, ‘Kinenbi’ 
(‘Days of Remembrance’), is a short article in two parts about two 
days that this particular woman ‘journalist’ named Oitako would 
never forget. The story in the second is presented as the journalist’s 
own, but the name she appended to her article was not known to 
Osaka Choho readers, and not used again. 



Kanno Suga (1902-1911 ) 151 


‘Tsuyuko’ has other points of interest: the symbol of evil and the 
cause of familial unhappiness, for example, is the (former geisha) step- 
mother. Suga’s hostility toward ‘geisha -prostitutes’ was probably not 
only moral prejudice. She said in 1910 that when her mother died 
she was brought up by a stepmother (mentioned also by Arahata), 
and then her life was ‘very unhappy’. The stepmother left the family, 
apparently, when the father had a stroke in 1901. 44 Like ‘Omokage’, 
the story that Suga called ‘Tsuyuko’ after its heroine coincides roughly 
with the rather scant record of her own life. Details about family mem- 
bers in the story fit her own family; and the main theme of the novel, 
an unsatisfactory marriage to a merchant in the Kanto area, parallels 
her experience. The name she gave this merchant, ‘Miyamoto’, was 
also similar to ‘Komiya’, the real name of her former husband. Yet 
the same problem as with ‘Omokage' remains: that one can only 
guess at whether it was a faithful rendering of her own story. Thus, 
it is sufficient for my purposes to treat it as the story of a Meiji 
woman. Whether any part of her audience was meant to recognize 
Kanno Suga (or more accurately, ‘Yuzuki’) in Tsuyuko is not really 
the point. What is rather more pertinent is that Suga’s representations 
of the trials life held for women, who were allowed no freedom to 
shape their own lives, were beginning to be tinged with impatience. 

In ‘Tsuyuko’ the heroine’s stepmother was described by Yuzuki as a 
woman with a ‘disreputable’ past who would ‘sprawl unbecomingly in 
front of the brazier as if she had taken root, barking orders to bring or 
remove tea cups and blowing tobacco from a long, slender pipe into 
smoke rings’. 45 Her harsh disposition made the lives of Tsuyuko and 
her younger brother and sister a misery. When early in the story the 
heroine returns from Tokyo where she has been training as a nurse, 
she immediately knows something is wrong because her stepmother 
welcomes her effusively. 46 Tsuyuko is soon told by her father that 
arrangements have been made for her to marry a wealthy merchant. 
She then meets Koichi and finds that he is a pampered adopted heir 
of doting parents, a cold, ignorant, dull-witted and uncommonly 
ugly man. She is expected to marry him for his money. Yet, despite 
her feelings of abhorrence for the marriage and disgust at her parents’ 
avarice, she is ‘bound by the chains of filial piety’ and must ‘sacrifice’ 
herself for the good of her family. Furthermore, much like in ‘Omok- 
age’, Tsuyuko’s father is described as a man who ought to be ashamed 
of his career of ‘dabbling in speculation on the stock-market’ when he 
‘cannot even feed his children’. 47 Once married, Tsuyuko finds other 
reasons to be unhappy with her arranged, loveless marriage: the 
mother-in-law disapproves of this ‘vulgar ex-nurse’ from a ‘beggarly’ 



1 52 Life-narratives 

family. 48 Again we see the theme of the bride not being welcomed into 
the family but harangued and mistreated by the mother-in-law. And 
there is another villain in the novel, a clerk. One day while the frail 
Tsuyuko is recovering from an illness, apparently the clerk sexually 
assaults her. She is :'ound lying on the floor insensible, reviving with 
a gasp at the ‘horrifying recollection’ that the face of the clerk 
brings her. 

Suga’s references to a rape in this story are veiled, but at a time 
when the victims of sexual assault were even more likely than today 
to be held responsib e by society, she was courageous to raise the sub- 
ject at all. Three years before she wrote ‘Tsuyuko’ she had also alluded 
to rape in ‘Days of F.emembrance’. 49 It seems that she was prepared to 
take the risk of being judged unchaste by her readers - or by her jour- 
nalistic colleagues who would know who the author, ‘Oitako’ was. In 
implying that she had herself been the victim of rape, Suga revealed 
how important she believed it was to bring this aspect of the brutal 
treatment of women to the attention of the public. It also recalls the 
emerging literary tendency to equate a confessional style with social 
rebellion. For there is little doubt that merely in writing sympatheti- 
cally of a victim ’s sulfering, Suga was being much more radically ‘poli- 
tical’ than her words alone might suggest to today’s reader. These two 
texts foreshadowed a more explicit concern later with women as the 
victims of both patriarchal double standards and sexual violence. 

In ‘Days of Remembrance’ Suga had begun by speaking of two days 
of the year that always brought the writer painful memories: on both 
these dates, she was once ‘struck down by the god of death’ who 
‘snatched away’, not her life but her ‘respectability and virtue’. 
Though Suga did net use explicit terms like ‘rape’ here either, the sig- 
nature that she attached to this article, literally ‘girl-child of Oita’, also 
lends credence to the view that these two days were the anniversaries 
of occasions on which she herself was raped. 50 For an explanation 
of the significance of Oita one needs to recall that Suga said under 
interrogation in 1910 that her father had been a miner. At one time 
the family had lived in Oita Prefecture in Kyushu as Yoshihige once 
operated a mine there. 51 Arahata also wrote that Suga confided in 
him that her stepm zither had been responsible for an incident that 
caused her unforgettable ‘anguish’. The stepmother, he said, had 
ordered a miner to rape her in a ‘sinister scheme’. 52 Suga’s biographers 
(source unclear) have added to Arahata’s account of the rape that the 
stepmother’s intention was to alienate father from daughter, so the 
stepmother twisted :he facts to make it seem as if the young victim 
of the assault had been the guilty party. 53 Hence, Suga might have 



Kanno Suga (1902-1911) 153 


had very good reason for her hostile representations of stepmothers, 
and also fathers, since hers had apparently believed her guilty. We 
cannot know the precise details, but Arahata’s remarks together 
with her references to rape in these articles make it seem likely that 
Suga had been raped, and not just once. 

To the remark about this ‘sinister scheme’, Arahata added that Suga 
had ‘also confessed that despair over th is aspect of her past had been 
the foundation of her rather dissolute life in later years’. The sugges- 
tion is that in 1903 she had seen herself as already impure and there- 
fore it did not much matter if she led an unchaste life. There are hints 
of such an attitude in ‘Days of Remembrance’ where ‘Oitako’ wrote 
that the ‘god of death’ had robbed her (permanently?) of her ‘respect- 
ability and virtue’. Arahata, supposedly repeating what she had said, 
appeared to use the rape as an excuse for her later moral ‘transgres- 
sions’, which is to say that he felt that lie was being sympathetic. 

While again it can only be a matter for speculation about historio- 
graphical ironies, one wonders if, in bolh confiding in Arahata about 
rape and also writing about it, Suga contributed to the historical pic- 
ture of herself as promiscuous and immoral. She did seem to have a 
habit of confiding in people - readers, intimates, even prosecutors - 
despite the fact that certain confidences could be misinterpreted or 
deflected away from the purposes she intended. In admitting she had 
been raped, Suga was probably intent on illustrating how women 
were brutalized by the social system; it is doubtful that she was 
merely looking for sympathy, because it was far from certain she 
would get it. She might not have been very consistent in 1902-1903 
about how that system was founded upon a double sexual standard, 
but by 1906 this had changed. 

Turning finally to Suga’s increasing interest in socialism toward the 
end of the period, it should first be noted that it seems to have derived 
largely from the sympathy of some male socialists for women’s prob- 
lems. The issues that she felt most strongly about in these early years 
were clearly the patriarchal family system, prostitution and rape. 
According to Arahata, Suga had been deeply impressed with Sakai 
Toshihiko when he published an interview with a rape victim. Rape, 
he had said, was ‘like being bitten by a mad dog’, a misfortune for 
which the victim could hardly be blamed. It was for this reason, 
Arahata said, that Suga visited Sakai at the Heiminsha offices the 
year after. 54 She sought Sakai Toshihiko out in July 1904 while in 
Tokyo for a national Reform Society conference. Suga’s meeting 
with Sakai was a significant one because he not only played an impor- 
tant part in drawing her nearer to socialism, but remained one of her 



1 54 Life-narratives 

close friends until th e end of her life. In 1911 she wrote in her prison 
diary of his sincere sympathy for women. 55 After their first meeting, in 
Heimin Shinbun Sakai wrote that a ‘welcome guest’ had called in, a 
Miss Kanno Sugakc who was a journalist in Osaka and a ‘socialistic’ 
(shakaishugiteki) thinker. Perhaps what he meant was that she was a 
socialist sympathizer. (She did say herself in her testimonies later 
that she started ‘studying’ socialism around that time.) He also com- 
mented that ‘those in the women’s community who are acquainted 
with our position [on women] are delighted’. 56 Apparently Suga was, 
because on her return to Osaka she helped organize a fund-raising 
campaign for the Heiminsha, and a Heimin Shinbun study group. 57 
Suga, it seems, was now no longer merely ‘socialistic’, but an active 
socialist. And it was only a matter of time and opportunity before 
this change would be more clearly reflected in her writings. 

Until May 1905, Suga continued to publish in Kirisutokyo Sekai; in 
Michi no Tomo only until February 1905. But it was in Wakayama 
in the first half of 1906 that she gained more freedom to flex her 
muscles - both because she was now working for a socialist paper, 
and because for a time she had editorial control of it. Suga started 
writing for Murd Shinpo (Muro News) at the end of 1905, contributing 
articles from Kyoto. It was not until she started writing for Murd 
Shinpo that she began to paint a picture of life in Meiji Japan that 
was less a reflection of dominant ideology and morality. This plus 
the fact that she now had a different audience combined to turn her 
then-current Life-construct into something more likely to bring ideo- 
logical opponents to the fore. 

1906-1908 

One of Suga’s earliest articles for Murd Shinpo contained the 
following: 

Our ideal is socialism, which aims at the equality of all classes. But 
just as a great bui [ding cannot be destroyed in a moment, the exist- 
ing hierarchical class system, which has been consolidated over 
many years, cannot be overthrown in a day and a night. ... So 
we [women] must first of all achieve the fundamental principle of 
‘self-awareness’, e nd develop our potential, uplift our character, 
and then gradually work toward the realization of our ideal. 58 

This does not necessarily mean, however, that socialism immediately 
came to define her writings, nor that all of her texts were consistently 
socialist. The standard view of Suga then is that she was a reformist 



Kanno Suga (1902-1911) 155 

socialist. Accepting this view, however, might lead one to speak as 
if this necessarily displaced Suga the Christian; or to overlook early 
radical populist (or shishi ) influences upon her so-called ‘reformism’. 
Even at this time she was capable of speaking as if she accepted radical 
revolutionist, violent tactics, though whether she subscribed to a revo- 
lutionary vision of a socialist society is open to question. 


To ‘good husbands and wise fathers’ 

While in Kyoto in 1905, Suga had not been writing for any paper. 
In September she found some work teaching Japanese, apparently 
with the recommendation of both the Protestant pastor of the 
church she attended in Kyoto and Hayashi Utako of the Reform 
Society. But the following month she received a letter from Sakai 
Toshihiko asking if she was free to fill in for Mori Saian, the editor 
of Muro Shinpo. 59 Mori was being prosecuted for two counts of 
‘insulting’ government officials in the pages of the paper, and 
wanted someone to edit it during his trial and likely imprisonment. 60 
Suga could not see her way clear to leave Kyoto for Wakayama at 
once, perhaps because she had just committed herself to a new posi- 
tion, so Sakai sent Arahata Kanson to help out for the time being. 
Mori interviewed Suga while on one of his trips to Osaka during the 
court case, and exacted a promise from her that she would contribute 
to the paper from Kyoto before taking up the post of acting editor. 61 
Ultimately, M5ri was fined and sentenced to imprisonment for forty- 
five days. He was due to enter prison on 13 March 1906, so Suga 
arrived in Wakayama on 4 February to take up the editorship in his 
absence. Thus it was in the coastal town of Tanabe that Suga met 
Arahata and the two of them developed a close friendship. According 
to one source, this was because they had ‘travelled a common road 
from Christianity to socialism’. 62 This, however, implies that they 
had already renounced Christianity, which cannot be said of Suga. 

Suga’s father had died in Kyoto on 3 June 1905. 63 She was then left 
alone with her sister, Hide, because her younger brother had gone to 
study in the United States. One might expect the death of her father 
to make Suga look a more kindly upon fathers in her writings, but 
in fact she became more severe on paternal authority. The first part 
of ‘Tsuyuko’ was published five months after Yoshihige’s death. One 
event in her life in 1905 must have contributed to her obvious disdain 
for social constructions of fathers alone as moral role models. 
(Women, after all, had to be educated to become ‘good wives and 
wise mothers’.) 64 Before his death, Yoshihige had called to his bedside 



1 56 Life-narratives 


a young man who turned out to be his eldest son by a woman other 
than his legal wife. 61 ’ This was the first his two daughters knew of 
the existence of their half-brother and his mother. Suga wrote a 
short non-fictional essay entitled 'Yonin no Hahaue’ a year later, in 
which one of her (‘Yhzuki’s’) ‘four mothers’ was described as follows: 
‘The mother who gave birth to my elder brother and to whom I am 
bound by duty lives in Kyoto. She is a rare gentle person by today’s 
standards.’ 66 This was the ‘mother’ toward whom she felt ‘filial’. 
Suga’s ‘biological’ mother had died long before, and the other two 
were described as her ‘compassionate’ mother and her ‘spiritual’ 
mother. As Itoya argues, the stepmother was not amongst these 
‘mothers’ she respected and felt a deep affection for. 67 Suga did not 
say much that was revealing about her ‘filial’ mother - ‘who had 
been brought up as a young lady, and was thus innocent of the 
ways of the world’ - though she did paint a sympathetic picture of 
her. A criticism of fathers in general was implicit in this essay that 
glorified only ‘mothers’, but one could also see the piece as partly a 
personal criticism of her own father. Her implication was that some- 
one had taken advantage of the gentleness and innocence of this 
woman when she was younger. 

In this article Suga also described her ‘spiritual mother’. This was 
Hayashi Utako, the Christian leader of the Osaka Moral Reform 
Society and founder of the Hakuaisha. Sievers describes the Hakuaisha 
as ‘a charitable institution functioning as an orphanage, nursery, day 
school, and shelter for mothers and children’. 68 For Suga, Hayashi 
was ‘a woman of rare strength who was perhaps a little too austere 
for some’; she was a woman to whom she had been ‘bound by God’, 
and her ‘clear thinking, burning religious faith and eloquence dispelled 
[Suga’s] ennui with one sweep’ each time they met. 69 This was the figure 
to whom Suga now looked for advice and encouragement, with whom 
she sometimes even argued. She was the only person with whom Suga 
could give free reign to the ‘rational side’ of her character. Hayashi had 
clearly replaced Udagawa as a mentor: she was, Suga said, ‘almost like 
a loved and respected teacher’. 

It is not difficult to see a Christian influence in Suga’s writings for 
Muro Shinpo. There are often references to ‘God’ in her articles in 
1906, when she thanks God, or even notes in the context of discussing 
the sort of (‘bold’ or resolute) political death she wants that He has not 
set her time yet; ‘faith’, moreover, is explicitly used in the religious 
sense. 70 In one article, however, she dismissed the Christian prohibi- 
tion on suicide while expressing her desire for a spouse who would 
be so passionate in his love for her that he would be happy to die 



Kanno Suga ( 1902-1911 ) 1 57 

for the socialist cause together with her. 71 It might be making too 
much of this ‘revolutionary’-samurai romanticism to suggest that it 
reflected an informed commitment to socialism, but Suga’s writings 
in Muro Shinpo reflected changes in her ideas and rhetorical style 
which at the time would have sufficed to identify her as a socialist. 
In this early period when she was apparently still a Christian and 
still involved in the Reform Society, yet was moving closer to social- 
ism, there is no sign in her works of a thorough knowledge of socialist 
theory, nor any doctrinal consistency. Nevertheless, it was clearly an 
important period in her professional and political growth. Her close 
friendship with Arahata may have had some impact on her political 
thinking, but now she was also able to work free of editorial control 
and actually expected to write in a socialist vein. 

In order to comprehend how she now presented life and society to 
her new audience, one needs to look firstly at how the content and 
tone of her writings changed. To begin with, there was a marked dif- 
ference between her earlier support of charitable works amongst the 
poor and also orphaned children, and her comment in April 1906 
that people should not ‘just cry at the sad plight of orphans’ but 
rather ‘curse the society which plants the seeds of their misery’. 72 
She made this remark in an article about a charity concert for such 
children that she attended with her sister. Suga had been associated 
for some time with Hayashi’s orphanage and shelter, and one of the 
Hakuaisha’s greatest problems was coping with widespread tuber- 
culosis. It is significant that her comments on the misery of orphans 
were made at a time when her own sister’s consumptive condition 
was deteriorating. No doubt this contributed to the impatience with 
which she called on people to ‘wake up to the fact that only socialism 
would eradicate the causes of misery in society’. 73 She never had the 
financial means to provide adequate medical care for her sister, and 
Hide’s condition often came up in the course of her writings at this 
time. 74 

Another area in which Suga’s constructions of life underwent radi- 
cal changes is sexual politics. In 1903 she had sat in moral judgement 
of ‘prostitutes’ or ‘fallen’ women, but now she was more ‘outraged’ by 
a government that condoned a trade in daughters of the poor; appalled 
also by the many men who viewed women as mere playthings to be 
bought and sold. 75 Was there not a contradiction between the nation’s 
claim to be civilized and its condonation of such tyranny? This, she 
felt, was an affront to all women. 76 Not surprisingly, now there was 
suddenly a liberal use of the editor’ s-censor’s brush, both for this 
article and for a few lines on the same topic a few days earlier. (The 



1 58 Life-narratives 


system of censorship at this time was post-publication, so this would 
have been self -censorship by the editor to avoid publication prohibi- 
tions and fines. 77 Mori had not yet gone to prison at this point.) 

In the middle of April, Suga published another article, ‘Hiji Deppo’ 
(‘Rebuff’), that highlights the degree to which her feminist critique of 
conventional morality had become more thorough. This time, once 
again, the issue was women’s chastity, though now she denounced 
the habit men had of hypocritically harping on the subject. There 
should be some ‘evidence of the speaker’s competence to speak to 
such a subject befo'e we agree to listen’, insisted Suga; and she 
expressed the ‘utmost cynicism and unbridled hatred for dissolute 
men who had not earned the right to talk about chastity and exhort 
women to be ‘good wives and wise mothers’. 78 In ‘Rebuff’ Suga 
recommended that men look to their own chastity and try to 
become ‘wise fathers and good husbands’. In Suga’s representation 
of the ideal Meiji woman, chastity and purity was still the ideal, 
though she was now arguing pointedly that it should not be so only 
for women. 


‘Rise up, women!’ 

Once again in ‘Rebuff ’, Suga told her readers that only socialism could 
provide a fundamental solution to the problem of hypocritical atti- 
tudes toward female sexuality, though she did not specify how. 
Here, at least, she seemed to expect changes in attitudes to follow 
automatically the abolition of capitalism. So according to Suga, a 
‘socialist solution’ would address ‘the root of the problem’, but in the 
interim women still had to take up the struggle themselves ‘not only 
against husbands but against the entire self-serving world of men’. 79 
Drawing a parallel between women’s struggle against a world that 
served only men’s interests and the class struggle of workers against 
capitalists, she called on women to fight for, even shed blood for, 
their freedom. 

Apart from a treatment of conventional gender constructions that 
was now decidedly oppositional, there is already a hint here that 
men could not be relied upon to champion the cause of women. 
Suga was rather inconsistent on the question of reform or revolution 
- unclear on what fcrm the struggle for socialism would take. She 
did not speak explicitly about ‘revolution’, but she implied its necessity 
with her reference to the necessity of bloodshed in either struggle, 
just as she often suggested it by speaking even in this early period of 
socialists’ giving up their lives for the cause. 80 (Increasingly, of 



Kamo Suga (1902-1911) 159 


course, radical publications at this time: were catching the attention of 
censors and being banned, and this was particularly the case if they 
contained the word ‘revolution’.) It is possible that these were just dra- 
matic turns of phrase, but the person speaking about shedding blood 
had seen herself as a pacifist only a short time before; and sacrificing 
oneself for the cause does not suggest working for piecemeal reforms. 
All in all, these were strong words for a woman who, no more than a 
few years before, had bemoaned the la ck of virtue in certain types of 
women and, only a few months earlier, had been re-elected as an 
officer of an organization dedicated to pacifism, limited social reform 
and philanthropic works. But Suga’s ‘revolutionary’ language notwith- 
standing, concrete matters connected with socialist revolution or the 
nature of a socialist society did not cla m her attention. 

Mori Saian, the regular editor of Muro Shinpo, was released from 
jail at the end of April, and three weeks later Suga resigned from 
the paper and returned to Kyoto. Arahata was already back in 
Tokyo, having left partly because his writings were too radical for 
many of the locals in Wakayama. Suga wrote on 12 April about 
how he could serve the cause of socialism better back in Tokyo. 81 
Hence, her readiness to leave the paper might have been partly because 
she, too, found her audience too conservative, but on the other hand 
she had not been getting on well with M5ri. On his return her editor 
had expressed concern about the tone of her writing and censured 
her for being ‘too extreme’, but Suga then carried on her arguments 
with Mori and male readers in the pages of the paper. She actually 
told readers of this reprimand, revealing to them the pressure she 
was under to moderate her views. 82 He began to append cautionary 
editorial notes to the readers about her articles or to print rebuttals 
of them. In one strongly worded refutation (of the article on double 
suicide) that was highly critical of her ‘morbid ideas’, Mori lamented 
in patronizing fashion that this could come from a Christian 
socialist. 83 But, other than the paternalistic way in which he treated 
her, it is possible that there was another reason for the tensions 
between the two: Arahata claimed that Mori had proposed marriage 
to Suga on one of their first meetings, but she was indignant to dis- 
cover later that he already had a wife confined to a sickbed. 84 

In general, in the pages of Muro Shinpo Suga expressed her anger 
and frustration with a society in which women were at best patronized 
or ignored, at worst treated as merchandise subject to care or abuse in 
accordance with its value. During her time at Wakayama, her criti- 
cisms of men became what we might even describe as ‘savage’, and 
the ‘extreme’ views she expressed were probably born partly of frustra- 



1 60 Life-narratives 

tion with the sluggishness of change. Many in the decades after the 
Meiji Restoration chafed at the ‘two steps forward, one step back’ 
fashion in which ‘progress’ was affecting women. To give just a few 
examples of this uneven progress: when women had gained the right 
to file for divorce with the Civil Code of 1898, men were accorded 
legal headship of the family unit; though female children had gained 
the legal right to primary education, it was not until 1913 that 
women could enter national universities; and, while men of means 
gained the right to vote and participate in politics, all women were 
barred from such unseemly public activities. Article 5 of the Police 
Security Regulations of 1890 had not only prohibited women from 
organizing or joining political groups and attending political meetings; 
Diet members had even gone so far as to try to exclude women from 
the gallery from which the ‘public’ were permitted to observe Diet 
proceedings. 85 

Suga now pulled no punches in how she represented life for Meiji 
women. On 6 May 1906, after Mori’s return, she declared in ‘A Per- 
spective on Men’: 

There are no anima ls in the world as conceited as men. When they 
are paid even casual compliments by women, they immediately 
jump to conclusions and betray themselves with loathsome smirks. 
Men really are the personification of conceit. The more conceited 
[they] are, moreover, the more they tend to prefer faint-hearted 
people. In times o' emergency, they clearly have more affection 
for women with nc self-respect who first burst into tears, wailing 
‘Whatever shall we do?’ at their wits’ end, than for wives who 
give good counsel. . . . Many men dislike women with their own 
opinions. They prefer women who listen to what they have to say 
admiringly, even if they are utterly indifferent. Men who are very 
conceited treat women as playthings. . . . They hide behind their 
masks, looking grave, putting on airs and affecting dignity; and 
the more they talk self-importantly, feign cleverness, and take them- 
selves too seriously, the more women are able to see through their 
downright stupidity. 86 

Her comment that men disliked women with strong opinions recalls 
her remark earlier that it was only with Hayashi Utako that she 
could express the rational side of her character freely. The article con- 
tinued in this vein, concluding that women had long been deluded into 
thinking of men as strong and naturally superior when generally it was 
women who were bold and who took the initiative. 



Kanno Suga (1902-1911) 161 


Given the obvious tensions between Suga and her editor, it is pos- 
sible that much of this was directed at him. A few days later Mori 
printed a rebuttal of this article written by a reader, and Suga in 
turn defended herself against this and M5ri’s criticism of her ‘extre- 
mism’. In this defence she complained that both the reader and her 
editor were only prepared to consider men’s views on women, not 
women’s on men. 87 It is probable that Suga’s writings at this time 
were largely aimed at men she knew personally. One is able to 
detect more than a hint of her speaking from personal experience 
when in disgust she mounted an all-out attack on men’s ‘conceit’; on 
men who could not tolerate women with independent views; on 
‘debauched’ men who employed sexual double standards by insisting 
that women be chaste, while they themselves could go to prostitutes 
and also keep ‘mistresses’. 

When Suga had spoken of ‘the entire self-serving world of men’ ear- 
lier in ‘Rebuff’ (15 April), it was clear she was representing sexual 
exploitation as part of the conditions under which all women lived. 
What appeared to be foremost in her m ind were issues like prostitution 
and concubinage. These were institutions that far too many women 
suffered under, not only the prostitutes or concubines themselves, 
but also wives whose value depended largely upon whether ‘they’ 
could produce male heirs. The pitiable situation of wives had received 
ample attention since earlier in Meij: even from male liberals, and 
Suga herself had once joined in the fight to win good gentlewomen 
the protection, respect and affection they deserved. But now, only a 
few years later, she was expressing her concern also for the other vic- 
tims of this ‘world of men’: the women she had once sat in judgement 
upon, some of whom might not have been so unlike herself, that is, if 
she too had been the lover of a married man. Whether or not Udagawa 
was amongst her men in ‘masks’ (he had, after all, actually worn a 
theatrical mask to hide his disfigurement), her remarks have a ring 
of personal affront as well as general outrage about sexual double 
standards and exploitation. It is highly unlikely that all of the objects 
of her ‘utmost cynicism and unbridled hatred’ were men she did not 
personally know. 

Whatever the extent to which ‘personal’ problems with Mori had 
contributed to her desire to leave Wakayama, it is clear that by the 
time Suga left she felt that women had to ‘struggle for their freedom 
and equality with men’ on their own behalf. Even socialist men were 
not necessarily allies in the fight for women’s emancipation. It is 
also clear that she was beginning to see a commitment to socialism 
as ‘a heavy cross to bear’ - which is to say that it required dedication 



1 62 Life-narratives 

in the present and perhaps also the ultimate sacrifice in the future. She 
was beginning to see and represent life for such as her as synonymous 
with rebellion; and this was already romantically connected in her 
mind with death for a cause. 


Rise up, people of will!! 

When she returned to Kyoto at the end of May 1906 Suga worked for 
a time doing office work at a university while still contributing occa- 
sional articles to Muro Shinpd. HH In July Arahata visited her from 
Tokyo. Suga said in one of her court testimonies that their common- 
law marriage began in Kyoto at this time. On 12 October she moved 
with Hide to Tokyo, the opportunity to do so having presented itself 
when she was offered a position as a reporter for the social pages of 
a new Tokyo newspaper, the Mainichi Denpo ( Daily Telegraph). This 
was not a socialist paper, so perhaps what helped her to obtain the 
position was a short article she had written in September, which was 
published in one of the largest daily newspapers. 89 This dwelt on the 
memories that a present from her mother evoked of the days when 
her mother, father and older brother were all still alive (her older 
brother had died when she was fifteen). The possibility of her sister’s 
death might have bee i weighing on her mind at that time. Hide’s ill- 
ness would have added to her desire to find employment before leaving 
for Tokyo, since Arahata the wandering proselytizer was unlikely to 
be able to contribute much. Suga sent word at the end of that year 
to her Wakayama readers and friends - also to some foes perhaps - 
that she and another former Muro Shinpo reporter were beginning a 
new life together in the new year. 90 

The beginning of 1907 was eventful for her in other respects. In 
January two socialist newspapers began publication: Heimin Shinbun, 
which was now revived as a daily, and the first paper produced by 
socialist women, Sekcti Fujin ( Women of the World). Then in early 
February, a labour dispute escalated into an insurrection at the 
Ashio copper mine not far from Tokyo. Ashio was in the news at 
the time not just beca jse of miners’ struggles, but also because of an 
environmental strugg e of much longer duration. The mine was 
responsible for pollut on of the Watarase River which even by the 
1890s was a problem of immense proportions. The government contin- 
ued to refuse to close the mine and, instead, in 1902 came up with a 
plan (an unsuccessful one) to flood one area to contain the problem, 
limiting the poisoning of peasants’ fields. Some villages were destroyed 
in the process in July 1907, Yanaka being the most famous. 91 Such 



Kanno Suga (1902-1911) 163 

disputes led some to believe that the age of ‘direct action’ was dawn- 
ing in Japan, this being particularly topical at that time because on 
5 February 1907 Kotoku Shusui had published his well-known essay 
on the subject, ‘The Change in My Thought’. 92 Here in anarchist 
style Kotoku dismissed suffrage and parliamentary (indirect, ‘politi- 
cal’) strategies in favour of direct economic strategies like the general 
strike. In so doing, he added the final touch to a developing split in the 
new Japan Socialist Party, formed in February 1906, between ‘politi- 
cians’ (social democrats) and direct actionists. The Japan Socialist 
Party was not given the opportunity of a final sectarian breach, how- 
ever, for one year after its foundation, it was outlawed. 

Because one would expect Suga to have been more interested in 
socialist women’s activities, it is worth pausing briefly over Sekai 
Fujin and its organizer, Kageyama (Fukuda) Hideko, veteran of the 
Popular Rights Movement of the 1880s;. Hideko had close connections 
with the Heiminsha, but she and others clearly felt the need for an 
independent socialist forum for women. 93 Women of the World lived 
up to its name: it established contact with emancipationists and suffra- 
gettes around the world and reported on their activities; and through 
doing so, brought the point home to Japanese women that they not 
only lacked the vote, but could legally do little to bring about suffrage 
and other reforms. While social democrats like her argued that women 
must fight to repeal Article 5 (that prohibited women from any in- 
volvement in politics), later that year n Sekai Fujin Kotoku invoked 
Emma Goldman as authority for his view that socialist women 
should not campaign to repeal Article 5. Parliamentary action and 
the vote would not bring women freedom, he argued. 94 A final point 
that should be made about Sekai Fujin, moreover, is that the group 
gave only qualified support to the Moral Reform Society. Though 
they supported the Society’s struggle against concubinage and prosti- 
tution, they believed that rather too many of these ‘upper-class’, ‘gen- 
teel’ ladies were involved in the reactionary, State-sponsored Women’s 
Patriotic Association; too few of them, moreover, showed any concern 
about women’s lack of political rights. 95 Suga may not have been 
directly involved with Sekai Fujin, but we will see shortly how the 
group might have influenced her attitude toward the Reform Society. 

Suga did not have the time to involve herself in any of this flurry of 
socialist activity early in 1907, but she was not busy writing. She 
apparently produced three short articles in the first week of January, 
two more during the month, and only two in February. Arahata 
returned from Ashio in the second week of February to find that 
Hide’s condition was deteriorating rapidly. Unable to scrape together 



164 Life-narratives 


the money to hospitalize her, Suga and Arahata stood by helplessly 
until she died on 22 February 1907, three days before she would 
have turned 20. 96 There is little doubt that Suga was grief-stricken 
and embittered over Iter sister’s death, but she may also have suffered 
from guilt. She had never been able to provide good medical care for 
Hide; her income could never have been more than what was needed 
merely to survive. She wrote one short piece in July about a dream 
in which Hide appeal ed to her, and stared hard at her until her eyes 
watered and a few tears fell. The suggestion is that Hide’s spirit was 
uneasy, and reproachful. 97 Furthermore, in addition to Suga’s likely 
feelings of frustration and guilt, she herself was ill. She, too, had con- 
tracted tuberculosis, so her prostration at the end of February must 
have been both emotional and physical. Early in May she went to a 
convalescent home where she spent two months. Perhaps her employ- 
ers at Mainichi Denpo not only gave her leave from her job but also 
paid her expenses. 

When writing for this newspaper or others she now contributed to 
occasionally, Suga most often signed herself ‘Sugako’, or even 
‘Kanno Sugako’. Presumably, she now wanted her audience to know 
her identity. One of the short pieces she wrote for Mainichi Denpo 
before Hide’s death, Joshu to Joko’ (‘Female Prisoners and Female 
Factory Workers’), was about a visit to both Hachioji Prison and a 
silk or cotton thread factory. 98 As the title suggests, Suga was 
making the point that there was not much difference between the 
two, which was a reference to the appalling, prison-like conditions 
of many textile factories. 99 She also noted that both prisoners and tex- 
tile workers were so because of a mere accident of birth: poverty. Both 
she represented as innocent victims of capitalism. The article was class- 
conscious to some extent, because there is in it a hint of a socialist cri- 
tique of the function cf both capitalist exploitation and penal systems. 
Suga also remarked on how daughters of the rich, with the oppor- 
tunity to go to school without any cares, should be confronted with 
these pitiful children in the factories. Suga did not need to name the 
‘ideal society’ against which she measured the reality she saw: the 
article was clearly written by a socialist. 

Another article she published at the very beginning of January 1907 
was called ‘Riso no Fujin’ (‘The Ideal Woman’). Once again, this was 
largely about women as decorative objects, but also about the need for 
reforms in styles of dress. 100 She connected this with the issue of women 
as the ‘playthings’ and ‘slaves’ of men, and also urged women to resist 
‘shallow vanity’ and the ‘devils’ who tempted the ‘high and low, rich 
and poor’ with finery and ornamentation. Interestingly, she also advo- 



Kanno Suga (1902-1911) 165 

cated that women throw away their restrictive obi (sashes); dispense 
with the uselessly long sleeves on kimono ; and cease doing up their 
hair in traditional Shimada or Marumage styles that were artificially 
‘stiffened unhygienically with oil’ and could not be managed alone 
(unlike Western styles). In advocating doing away with traditional 
means of distinguishing single from married women through coiffure 
and styles of kimono-sleeve, she was also implying that advertising 
one’s marital status should be dispensed with too. Finally, she urged 
her female comrades to be brave and set an example for others. Her 
‘ideal woman’ now was one who adopted new, simple styles of dress 
that would not restrict her movement. Even if she did not go so far 
as to advocate heavy boots and short hair, 101 one wonders if she 
knew of the strict codes for plain, practical dress of Russian populist 
women. 

In July 1907 Suga was still attending Reform Society gatherings, 
though only in the capacity of reporter. She covered one conference 
where the issue of legal prostitution was discussed, and a pro- ‘mono- 
gamy’ (anti-concubinage) petition to the government planned. 102 
Though unsigned, there is no doubt that one report entitled ‘Madam 
Yajima and Yanaka Village’ was written by Suga. Her interest in the 
struggle against the destruction of Yanaka village might have come 
partly from Arahata who wrote a book on it in August 1907, although, 
as Hane notes, socialists like Fukuda Hideko had also been active in 
support of the anti-pollution fight and t he campaign to save Y anaka. 103 
In another piece, Suga reported on the women’s condemnation of 
government officials for their lack of concern about prostitution, 
which was indicative of politicians’ ‘general contempt for women’, 
and described the delegates to the conference as ‘peerless warriors, 
full of religious faith and spiritual vigour’. 104 She might have still 
respected the moral commitment of women like Yajima Kajiko, the 
founder and national president, and Hayashi Utako, to whom she 
was personally indebted, but there is no evidence of her having further 
contact in Tokyo with Christian organizations. On the other hand, her 
expression of admiration for the spiritual faith of Reform Society 
women may have been an oblique way of saying that she herself no 
longer had that sort of faith. 

Suga’s underlying tone, particularly in the article about Yajima 
Kajiko, is of distance from the more conventional women of the 
Reform Society. There is a hint even of condescension in the way 
she expresses her admiration for them. She is there only in the capacity 
of observer, and, when she does once use a personal pronoun to state 
her own feelings, it is to say in a detached sort of way, ‘On behalf of 



166 Life-narratives 


society and women’s groups we are delighted with the fact that out of 
love the Kyofukai never ceases to be active, always focusing its atten- 
tion on [bread and butter] issues of life.’ But what is more to the point 
is that she admitted at least somewhat unfeelingly, that for her the high 
point of the conference was when the president, Yajima, raised as a 
postscript an issue that had nothing to do with the women’s issues 
that interested the Society: the campaign to save Yanaka village. 
Given the above-mentioned Sekai Fujin criticisms of the apolitical 
stance of the Society, Suga’s statement that this message of support 
and condolence from the Society was ‘the thing really worth hearing 
during the conference’ sounds like a political criticism - which might 
explain why the article was unsigned. 

In the second half of 1907 Suga became much more a part of the 
socialist community in Tokyo, often attending Heiminsha meetings. 
This was when she became intimate with socialist women like Sakai 
Tameko and Hori Yasuko. Being more a part of the socialist com- 
munity, moreover, accounts for her increased interest in prisons. In 
November she published an article about a trip to Sugamo Prison 
with Hori to welcome the latter’s husband, Osugi Sakae, on his release. 
Suga described Osugi as a young anarchist imprisoned for five months 
for publishing translations of Kropotkin, and referred to Yasuko as a 
friend who was like a sister to her. 105 This article is mainly a descrip- 
tion of the night that Suga, Yasuko and a young male socialist named 
Sakamoto spent at an inn in front of the prison while waiting for 
Osugi to be released early the next morning. Sakamoto got carried 
away with enthusiasm at one point after having observed that their 
imprisoned comrade, Ishikawa Sanshiro, might be nearby: ‘Hooray 
for Ishikawa!’ he yelled; ‘Hooray for the Japan Socialist Party!’ 106 

In general, the article was more about the horrors of the inn - bed- 
bugs, noisy students, a id drunken male neighbours - than about expli- 
citly political issues. Once again, however, there is a hint of a socialist 
critique of prisons: Suga’s ‘heart was so full at wondering whether [her] 
nearly two thousand brothers inside the bars in this solemn prison . . . 
were keeping up their spirits by cursing the cruel society and having 
hopeless dreams, that [she] forgot her joy at being able to welcome 
a friend in a few hours.’ She could not have been referring only to 
socialists, since there were nowhere near so many of them in prison. 
It is clear that what she was saying was that capitalism had made 
the inmates into criminals. There is no explicit condemnation in the 
article of the suppression of socialists, but it is interesting that she 
represented a prison guard as sympathetic to Osugi. He was at first 
‘arrogant’ but his voice through the gate became ‘very kind’ at the 



Kanno Suga ( 1902-1911 ) 1 67 


mention of Osugi’s name. It is almost as if the guard knew him to be 
especially innocent. Finally, while Suga was not in a position to offer a 
description of conditions in that prison, there is little doubt that this 
account of a filthy, frightening inn, which was the den of criminals 
and other undesirables, was allegorical, however inconsistent this 
was with her picture of a prison full of the innocent victims of 
capitalism. 107 Suga explicitly introduced the inn as a metaphor for 
the prison nearby when she noted that they found the room in the 
inn ‘horrid’ because it had ‘a nasty association in their minds with 
the prison’. 

Suga’s editors tolerated her references to socialism, perhaps so long 
as her writing was not too polemical or radical. She was not as prolific 
after her sister’s death as she had been in her brief period at the Murd 
Shinpo, and her writing overall was not: much more radical politically. 
Given the fact that she was now close to some in the radical faction, it 
might seem strange that her writing did not reflect this more, though it 
is likely that this non-socialist newspaper was happier to have her 
reporting on women’s colleges, covering the activities of the Moral 
Reform Society, or penning elegies for her lost sister than writing 
about imprisoned anarchists. 

Suga did not actually declare herself an anarchist until after the Red 
Flag Incident of June 1908 when she was first imprisoned, but she was 
often in contact with members of the ‘direct action’ group during the 
year before. She was personally close to the Sakai family, and while 
Toshihiko (a ‘hardline Marxist’) was not part of the anarchist faction, 
he was none the less a good friend of its leader, Kotoku. Other mem- 
bers of the anarchist group who were her intimates were Arahata, 
Osugi Sakae, Hori Yasuko, and perhaps also Ishikawa Sanshiro. 
Her surviving correspondence with him from early 1909 suggests 
that they were friends. Even in 1907 her sympathies were probably 
more with the radicals than the reformists - if earlier indications of 
a penchant for dramatic ‘revolutionary’ rhetoric are anything to go 
by - though later she indicated that she had been vacillating at this 
time. But then the Red Flag Incident occurred. This was during the 
last weeks of the relatively liberal Saionji government (January 
1906-July 1908), which had ignored the formation of the Japan 
Socialist Party in 1906. Such ‘tolerance’, however, could not be 
expected from the new prime minister, Katsura Taro, protege of the 
authoritarian Yamagata Aritomo. It was during Katsura’s second 
cabinet (July 1908- August 1911) that socialists were sentenced in con- 
nection with both the Red Flag and High Treason Incidents. 



168 Life-narratives 

On 22 June 1908 Arahata, Osugi and others had been arrested after 
a meeting for marchiig down the street waving red banners reading 
‘anarchism’, ‘anarcho -communism’ and ‘revolution’, singing revolu- 
tionary songs and yelling ‘ana-ana-anarchy’. When police tried to 
stop them, an hour-long brawl ensued. The anarchists won the 
brawl, it appears, but were still all arrested, together with Sakai Toshi- 
hiko and Yamakawa Hitoshi who had only tried to stop the fight. 108 
Concerned about their friends, Suga and Kamikawa Matsuko had 
followed them to the police station where they were also detained. 
Altogether there were then four women arrested, and by all accounts 
they and their ten male comrades were treated brutally during their 
imprisonment. 109 Sievers cites a newspaper that reported on the 
women’s mistreatment in prison and their desire for revenge. The 
prisoners were held for about two months awaiting the trial, and 
then Suga and Matsuko were acquitted while the others received 
fines, and prison terms ranging from one to two and a half years. 

This, then, was the turning point in her political career that Suga 
referred to during th: treason trial. Her experience of the Incident 
and prison, she said, had made her realize that disseminating socialist 
ideas ‘through peaceful means’ had become ‘utterly impossible’; thus 
she resolved to ‘work hard to bring about rebellion or revolution, 
carry out assassinations and so on to rouse the souls of the people’. 110 
She made similar references in her prison diary to the influence that 
this incident had hail on her. In addition, after she was released 
from prison in August 1908, she was dismissed from the newspaper. 
With her health worse after two months in jail, she was therefore 
left with no means of supporting herself until she found a job as a 
housekeeper and cook in an inn. She often visited comrades in 
prison, including Arahata, though they had probably been separated 
since early in 1908. All in all, it is easy to see why the autumn of 
1908 has been represented as the ‘official’ beginning of her radical 
period. 111 This incident was not such a radical break with her past 
as Suga indicated, however; for her the leap to anarchism was not 
such a big one. It was not just a matter of a pacifist, reformist socialist 
suddenly changing in lune 1908 because, as her own words as early as 
May 1906 show, she had long had radical inclinations or assumptions 
about political tactics Perhaps the change is best expressed as a move 
from a ‘distant’ view of socialism and romanticization of revolution- 
ism to a commitment to immediate revolutionary practice. 

Suga’s writings back in 1906 had been more radical than earlier 
because by then she was painting quite a different portrait of the 
‘real-life’ experience cf Meiji women. I would not go so far as to say 



Kanno Suga ( 1902-1911 ) 169 


that this portrait was defined even by reformist socialism, however, for 
one cannot easily recognize as socialist many of the articles she wrote 
in Wakayama. This was probably due more to a lack of knowledge or 
confidence than to editorial self-censorship, whether by Mori or Suga 
herself. Though there were some changes in her writing when she got 
to Tokyo, it was never so polemical in style as to give us a clear indi- 
cation of what socialism or anarchism really meant to her. Like many 
action-oriented people in Japan and elsewhere, Suga was never a the- 
orist. What is quite clear about this period, however, is that her presen- 
tations of life gradually took on a much more consistent counter- 
ideological tint than in the earlier period. Now she was not only pre- 
senting a very different picture of the reality that women faced, but 
was also exhibiting at times a consciousness of class. 

1909-1911 

For almost a year from the autumn of 1908 Suga did not publish any- 
thing. She may have been working too hard at her new domestic job, 
because by February 1909 she was so ill that she had to go away for a 
few weeks to rest and recuperate. 112 It was just before this, in January, 
that she had met the anarchist Buddhist monk, Uchiyama Gudo, who 
visited her at the boarding house where she worked and informed her 
that he had a hidden cache of explosives. It seems she was already 
known to be sympathetic to the idea of ‘direct action’. Early in Febru- 
ary, she was also present at a meeting a t the Heiminsha with Miyashita 
Daikichi, who claimed he had succeeded in manufacturing bombs. 113 
Later she recalled how after she met Miyashita she exchanged letters 
with him discussing sacrificing themselves for the cause. Kotoku was 
interested in the idea of a rebellion only in 1909. The two were living 
together as a couple from June, some time after Suga had moved 
into the Heiminsha quarters to help out with political work. (Thus 
Kdtoku and his wife Chiyoko were now separated.) 

In an atmosphere of intensifying repression when many of her com- 
rades were in prison, it is not surprising that Suga did not publish 
much between the beginning of 1909 and May 1910, when she entered 
prison for the last time. This was partly because socialist papers did 
not last long before being prosecuted and fined, or banned. Sekai 
Fujin, for example, was banned several times during its two years of 
existence between 1907 and 1909. 114 Because in this period Suga pub- 
lished only a few articles in the short-lived Jiyu Shiso ( Free Thought) 
of mid- 1909, one is forced to look elsewhere - to personal correspon- 
dence, for example - for indications of how she represented life just 



170 Life-narratives 


before her final imprisonment. The texts that will be used here there- 
fore vary. They include written texts of different types for different 
audiences (articles, poems, editorials, personal letters, and her prison 
diary), and also oral testimonies. 

These two years were Suga’s most radical period. It was a time when 
she embraced ‘direct action’ or, rather, ‘propaganda by deed’. After 
all, propaganda by word had become well-nigh impossible. This was 
also a time when those who were her enemies began really to pose a 
more direct threat to her existence. For now she was denouncing 
such things as arbitrary abuses of power by the police and judicial 
authorities in a way that revealed her desire to lash back. While 
Suga’s earlier texts suggest that she had often been engaged in a 
struggle with figures of authority, in 1 909 she seemed to present herself 
as already on the roacl to a final clash with power. There was not, per- 
haps, so much of a contrast as we would expect in the ways in which 
she represented life directly before and after her final imprisonment. 
She herself implied that the more serious charge of high treason 
served mainly to strengthen her resolve. 


Dear free thinkers 

We saw in Part II that when Jiyu Shiso was published in May and June 
1909, Suga’s name appeared as editor. 115 She was probably trying to 
shield Kotoku, as he (too) had tuberculosis. By that time, fines for 
infringements of the censorship laws were heavy. Offenders were 
imprisoned if the fines remained unpaid by a set date. It was Suga, 
therefore, who was arrested on 15 July 1909 and who spent one and 
a half months in prison awaiting the trial. Both she and Kotoku 
were ultimately fined, his penalty being lighter than the 400 yen or 
100 days hard labour that she received. Both appealed the judgement, 
but the appeal was dismissed the following April. After the journal was 
banned in June, by which time many comrades were already in prison, 
it was must have been clear to Suga and Kotoku that socialists could 
no longer disseminate their ideas legally. 

Suga wrote two articles in mid- 1909 in the second and final issue 
of Jiyu Shiso, in which some of the reasons for the frustrations of 
socialists were graphically portrayed. She was courageous and also 
rather reckless to write them and, inevitably, the backlash was swift. 
The first was an account of the Red Flag Incident twelve months 
before. The article c.welt largely on the socialists’ arrival at the 
prison, their defiance despite rough treatment by police and warders, 



Kanno Suga ( 1902-1911 ) 171 

and Suga’s first impressions of prison conditions. 116 She first painted a 
bright picture of the camaraderie of the socialists who all went 
together to prison in two horse-drawn police carts, singing revolution- 
ary songs and yelling ‘Anarchist Party [sic] forever!’ (Elsewhere parties 
were usually rejected by anarchists because ‘political’.). But then the 
picture darkened as Suga noted their indignation at having their ‘free- 
dom shackled’ when they had ‘committed no crime’; and admitted that 
the group’s optimism did not last long once the male comrades were 
handcuffed together in pairs and the women dragged away ‘like bag- 
gage’ and shoved into individual cells. These were pitch-dark and so 
narrow that they ‘scraped their noses’ if they tried to move around. 
Suga soon heard the ‘clanking of a sword at someone’s side’ drawing 
nearer, and thankfully breathed a sigh of relief when the door was 
unlocked. ‘You’re not getting out. Here’s your food’, someone mut- 
tered while shoving a filthy box with a revolting mess of miso and 
poor quality rice toward her. Evidently, she and the other women 
had forgotten the warnings of their more experienced comrades 
before they were separated: amidst the chorus of farewells someone 
had yelled, ‘However awful the food, you must eat it or you’ll lose 
your strength!’ Tapping on their adjoining walls and conferring on 
the subject of the ‘feast’ until they were roared at to ‘shut up’, the 
women were all of one mind: they could not summon up the courage 
to touch the stuff. 117 Doubtless, Suga was making a point about why it 
was that socialists returned from even short spells in prison in poor 
health. 

At the beginning of this article, Suga promised to continue her 
account of the Red Flag Incident in the next issue where she would dis- 
cuss the ‘tragic scene at the Kanda Police Station lock-up, the wretched 
night at the Metropolitan Police Headquarters, and also the day at the 
Prosecutor’s Office that [she] would never forget’. 118 (It was at this 
office that she first encountered Taketomi.) But she was not allowed 
the opportunity to keep her promise to reveal all. She never did describe 
in print the ‘tragic scene’ at the lock-up: the terrible beating that police 
gave Arahata and Osugi, who were stripped of their clothes, dragged 
along the corridors by their feet, kicked and stamped on. 119 

The other article that Suga published in Jiyu Shiso in which she 
expressed her political frustration was an editorial. Here she gave 
her readers graphic details about why the journal had to be limited 
to four pages; why, in fact, it was difficult for them to produce any- 
thing. The problem was police harassment of a kind that Suga said 
would have been ‘hilarious’ if it were not so ‘regrettable’ and trying. 
If any in her audience were under the illusion that Japan’s moderniz- 



1 72 Life-narratives 

ation had brought political freedom, her portrait of the rewards of 
being a known social critic would have revealed it to be a fiction. 
This was her description of the very close watch that police kept on 
the offices of the Heiminsha: 

We were afraid we would be banned immediately, but we published 
the first issue anyway . . . secret publications appear in rapid succes- 
sion, and it is clear that government officials are really in a panic. 
All of our comrades are being shadowed. ... If it continues in 
this way, I believe we will arrive at our destiny - having to 
choose between the alternatives of starving to death or advancing 
to [the point of] an explosion. Thus, our refined Japanese govern- 
ment actually does us the favour of creating many conspirators/ 
rebels. 

. . . recently there have been four plain-clothes men, eight eyes 
intently keeping vigil in shifts night and day, watching this office. 
There are two men at the front door and two at the back. 

There is a certain residence nearby that has no connection with 
this Society and its comings and goings. Many days ago, the 
hedge there was lorn up; they [the police] set up a tent with a 
ready-made red and white curtain for an entrance, and brought 
their cane chairs and camp stools almost as if they were having a 
garden party. I was struck dumb with amazement at these vigilant 
police sitting there dutifully taking notes. 

They made this house of a midwife named Matsuda . . . their 
troop headquarters, and what is more, they now rush around . . . 
enthusiastically swarming like ants from the red and white curtain 
to directly in front [of our offices], letting nothing pass them by. 
It is both hilarious and regrettable, but at least they are giving 
the mistress [Matsuda] some publicity. 120 

It was fortunate that Suga could maintain a sense of humour in such 
circumstances. She did a good job of painting an absurd ‘Keystone 
cops’ sort of picture of the unwarranted attentions paid to socialists 
by the police. There is little doubt that her audience was meant to 
question the intelligence of both those in charge of the national 
‘good’ and those they charged with domestic security. Furthermore, 
in her remarks abou'. destiny and rebels/conspirators, she seemed to 
be warning the government that it might come to regret pushing 
them too hard, while also making a bid for public understanding in 
the event something explosive’ happened. 

Using such rhetoric was probably unwise, when police were on the 
look-out for violent conspirators already. Uchiyama Gudo had been 



Kanno Suga (1902-1911) 173 

arrested in May after his cache of explosives was discovered. 121 His 
connection with Kotoku and Suga was known to the police and 
they, suspecting some sort of extremist plot, had stepped up their 
surveillance of the Heiminsha offices. As Notehelfer observes, one of 
the reasons for this was that there was a rumour abroad that 
Kotoku was considering anti-imperial violence; but this he disdainfully 
denied in an interview published in the Asahi Shinbun on 7 June, 
asking how anyone could be so stupid as to even think about perpe- 
trating such an act. 122 None the less, now Suga and Kotoku could 
not go anywhere without their escorts. 

This period between June and November was an eventful one. 
Perhaps by November, Kotoku, who had withdrawn from the ‘con- 
spiracy’, was already starting to regret separating from his wife, 
whom he had not seen as a fitting wife for a revolutionary. With 
Suga, he had thought he could live a life of ‘perfect happiness’ because 
she was ‘direct’, did not resort to ‘flattery’, and not only shared his 
ideals but ‘worked zealously’ for the cause. 123 Kotoku seems to have 
respected Suga politically, but there are indications that his view of 
their relationship was a little one-sided: she was the sort of woman 
who could better support him in his remaining political career. 124 
He did hope to be able to bring some: peace into her life, however, 
because she ‘had been raised in adversity from childhood and had 
spent all her life fighting’, and he wanted to ‘let her live out her remain- 
ing life in peace’. 125 Kotoku also implied in 1910 that it was because of 
his concern for Suga’s health that he had started to become ambivalent 
about the assassination plans. He had Loped that they would both be 
able to retire to the country, where he would continue writing and 
publishing. 

Kotoku had good reason for his concern over Suga’s general state of 
health, for, by early October 1909, it had deteriorated to the extent 
that she collapsed in the street. Ironically, the man who had carried 
her home unconscious on his back was the policeman who had been 
tailing her - to and from the public baths! She was hospitalized for 
a month after this, her condition diagnosed as nervous exhaustion. 126 
Her illness may have been aggravated by emotional stress due to a 
number of factors: her being arrested and held in custody for six 
weeks after which she was fined the enormous sum of 400 yen; the 
certainty that she would soon face another term of imprisonment if 
she could not raise the money; and also the fact that she and 
Kotoku were being hounded by police. Her involvement in discussions 
of assassination attempts and her impatience to do something decisive 
probably also added to her tension, but a further factor that might 



174 Life-narratives 

have contributed to the strain she was under was the ‘love scandal’ 
over a supposed love triangle involving herself, Kotoku and Arahata. 

The relationship between Suga and Kotoku was not received well 
even by comrades in the socialist community, largely because of an 
obvious misconception that she was still Arahata’s common-law 
wife. Arahata did nothing to dispel this mistaken notion but, on the 
contrary, took the news of their intimacy in the spirit of a ‘deserted 
husband’, even going so far as to write to Kotoku the following 
year threatening to kill him. Arahata admitted in his autobiography 
much later that there was already a ‘fissure’ in his relationship with 
Suga early in 1908, but he claimed that this had merely been a ‘tempor- 
ary’ separation. According to Suga’s account, it had not. The section 
in his memoirs on the ‘love scandal’ is entitled ‘Jealousy, Envy, 
Anguish’, which suggests something about his role in the scandal. 127 
Probably, Arahata’s state of mind at the time was closely connected 
with the fact that at the time he was in prison because he recalled in 
his memoirs being baited by prison warders about ‘his mother’ and 
her new boyfriend. Saga was five or six years older than him. 

There may have been economic reasons for the separation too. 
Arahata’s later remarks about Suga’s character are interesting because 
of a connection with the issue of money, because he claimed that she 
entered into all of her relationships with men for economic or mercen- 
ary motives. Shimizu Unosuke observes that even when Arahata was 
in salaried employment at the Heiminsha, he was earning less than 
Suga, and his income lasted only from January to mid-April. She 
was apparently earning 25 yen a month and he 15 yen. 128 If Suga 
had hoped to have an easier life with him in Tokyo, this certainly 
did not eventuate. Also, she later wrote in her prison diary that their 
relationship was unsatisfactory for her because they had been more 
like elder sister and younger brother than husband and wife. 129 A testi- 
mony of June 1910 (extract below) shows that she saw him as a 
‘younger brother’ partly because he was like another dependant. 

The socialist concern with Suga’s and Kotoku’s sexual ‘immorality’ 
was part of a broader public and governmental reaction to social 
‘decadence’ and sexual ‘depravity’. 130 The popular press contributed 
to the ‘love scandal’, making much out of this ‘free love’ incident. In 
one passage in Jiyu Shiso, Kotoku bemoaned the lack even of sexual 
freedom in Meiji Japan: ‘We have no freedom of speech, no freedom 
of religion, and still we do not have freedom in love’, he said. 131 In 
general, even Meiji socialists were slow to recognize the challenge 
‘free love’ posed to conventional Confucian-Western sexual morality 
and the ‘samuraized’ family. 132 Samurai familial practice had in 



Kanno Suga (1902-1911) 175 


many ways spread to the lower classes in Meiji, and even been 
enshrined in law - for example, primogeniture and male legal headship 
of the family - but, before Meiji, ‘monogamy’ had been held to be a 
virtue only for women. Socialists failed to recognize the highly politi- 
cal nature of ‘free love’, apparently, even after Jiyu Shiso was banned 
specifically for publishing an article advocating the destruction of the 
family or family system. 133 Nor did they question the conventional 
view of women as commodities: Kotoku was shunned by other 
socialists, not so much because he had deserted his own wife, but 
rather because he had ‘stabbed an imprisoned comrade in the back’ 
by stealing his woman. Osugi apparently exclaimed that Suga had 
‘abandoned a foot soldier in favor of an officer’, while Kotoku ‘stole 
the woman of a comrade in prison’. 134 And, of course, in the minds 
of socialist moralists then, in this so-called ‘triangle’, Arahata’s 
claim to Suga was more important than Chiyoko’s on Kotoku. 

Thus, there is good reason to suppose that Suga felt a need to vin- 
dicate herself in the eyes of the socialist community after she and 
Kotoku had been shunned. Some tanka she wrote and included in 
the first issue of Jiyu Shiso under the general title of ‘ Chiisaki Kyogi’ 
(‘White Lie/s’) actually refer to this ostracism. Two of these five 
poems are particularly revealing, but I will also include the last: 

Since the day when suddenly 
I felt ashamed at how practised 
I’d become at white lies, 

I’ve been cast out by society. 


Silent people 
again today, 
cultivating 

their one fearsome power. 


Even on the day of 

the drum signal for the attack, 

I’ll smile and think of the bliss 
of dying in your arms. 135 

We should first note that Suga signed herself ‘Ryuko’ (lit., ‘dragon’ + 
feminine suffix), which might have been a cynical reference to her 
being painted as a temptress. It has been said that Suga’s stepmother 
hated Suga because she was bom in she year of the dragon, which 



176 Life-narratives 

meant that she was evil and cunning. 136 Perhaps she was drawing a 
parallel between being seen as unchaste now and being blamed for 
being raped when a girl. Both the signature and the poems themselves 
are open to interpretation, but my reading of the first tanka is that the 
‘white lie’ was Suga’s pretence that she was still Arahata’s common- 
law wife after the Red Flag Incident, in order to get into prison to 
visit him and other comrades. 137 She mentioned this in one testimony 
later. It was because of this pretence that she then suffered ostracism 
for deserting a ‘husband’ in prison. Furthermore, concerning the last 
two poems, though she might have to contend with the ‘fearsome 
power’ of people’s s lence for the moment, what seems to buoy her 
spirits up is the certc inty that the day of ‘reckoning’ will come when 
she can die for the cause - with Kotoku presumably - and prove 
that it is they who are the true revolutionaries. Suga seemed to be pro- 
testing her innocence, while also portraying herself as a genuine revo- 
lutionary misunderstood by her peers. Finally, here too there is a hint 
of some cataclysmic, heroic act yet to come, which will show her true 
worth. 

Two points should be emphasized about this ‘free love scandal’. The 
first is that it is possible that this was not the first time that Suga had 
faced the moral condemnation of colleagues, that is, if Arahata’s story 
about her ‘promiscuous’ past when at Osaka Choho had any basis in 
fact. The second point to be made about the muddied reputations of 
Suga and Kotoku is that this might have influenced her apparent 
‘pessimism’ just before her final imprisonment when she painted life 
as a ‘journey of meaningless wretchedness’. After all, in the wake of 
socialist censure for d ;pravity had come suspicions of treachery against 
comrades and the cause. This was because by March 1910, Kotoku and 
Suga had retired to a health resort in Yugawara on the Izu peninsula, 
which led to a belief in the socialist community that he had defected. 
There was some cause for his comrades to think this: a friend of 
Kotoku’s had arranged financial support for him to move to the coun- 
try and pursue scholarly work; and this same friend had approached a 
high-ranking police o ficial to stop the harassment of Kotoku if he pro- 
mised to retire from political activity. Even after their arrests, Suga was 
intent on refuting this charge of defection. In one court interrogation 
(included below), she denied more than once that by then Kotoku 
had then ‘abandoned the cause’ or ‘given up anarchism’. 

Kotoku implied in a letter to Arahata in May 1910 that Suga had 
added to his problems at Yugawara because her state of mind was 
unstable: he said that she had often had attacks of ‘extreme hysteria’ 
from the time she was released from prison six months earlier. After 



Kanno Suga (1902-1911) 177 

her collapse he had ‘had doubts about her sanity’, and still now she 
suffered ‘a severe nervous debility’. 138 His description may have been 
somewhat exaggerated, however, because it is known that at that 
time they argued over the issue of political retirement. (Perhaps he 
saw her defence of her political position to be merely ‘emotional’). 
She, however, seemed to feel that his attitude toward the assassination 
plans was too passive, and she was probably not very happy to be sit- 
ting around doing nothing in a health resort not knowing what her 
fellow conspirators were doing. During the Pretrial Hearing, Kotoku 
said she had agreed at first to retire to the country, but while they 
were there she hated being inactive. 13 '* On 18 April Suga wrote to 
Furukawa Rikisaku indicating that she had not abandoned the plan 
for rebellion, and also saying that she had decided not to bother con- 
tinuing with the appeals against the fines and would take the hundred 
days of hard labour. 140 Kotoku was stil l trying to borrow the money to 
pay her fines at this point. On 1 May she left Yugawara for Tokyo, 
and less than three weeks later, on 18 May, she was accompanied to 
the prison gates by some comrades. 

It has been argued that when Suga left K5toku in Yugawara, both 
knew that the relationship was over. This may have been true of 
Kotoku, who later wrote to his wife apologizing and hinting at a 
reconciliation, but it was not true of Suga, as her letters to him in 
May illustrate. Prison officials were said to have baited her by showing 
her the letter from Kotoku to his wife Suga apparently felt betrayed 
and shortly after her imprisonment, she sent a letter to him in 
prison terminating their relationship. 14 


To friends and foes 

Suga was not expending any effort at all on proselytizing just before 
her final imprisonment in 1910; she rio longer had the opportunity 
to do so. The only writing she was doing, apparently, was in letters 
to friends, and these I look at first before turning to her pretrial testi- 
monies. The latter, being texts to her ‘foes’, naturally show how she 
remained defiant, but one might question whether they reveal the 
heightened use of her lived reality as an ideological weapon that one 
would expect. In the third part of this section, I include once more a 
brief consideration of her last letters and prison diary, and it should 
be recalled that the latter was largely written for her comrades. In 
such texts one would not expect her to be trying to convince anyone 
of the dreadful iniquities of the social-legal system - for this would 
have been preaching to the converted - though she does bemoan 



178 Life-narratives 

them. But by this time, of course, her indignation at the persecution of 
innocent comrades was greater than earlier because of the severity of 
the sentences (for treason) imposed upon so many. 

I 

Suga’s personal letters written in May 1910 are the only texts one can 
consult to see how she represented life just before her final imprison- 
ment. They reveal that her statements later in prison or court about 
the quality of life, about what it meant to her to live and die well, 
were not solely knee-jerk reactions to a final confrontation with 
power. Suga’s constructions of life and death did not change greatly 
after this imprisonment because her clash with power had been going 
on for some time, all the while intensifying. There are rather a lot of 
signs, in fact, that she had expected such a confrontation with her 
‘destiny’. Her letters to Kotoku in May therefore show that grand ques- 
tions of the meaning of mortality and immortality, direct meetings with 
power, and a quest for political self-empowerment in a situation where 
there were definite limits to possible action were already issues for her 
even before her third imprisonment. But these letters have a very per- 
sonal dimension too, reminding us of various things: her love for 
Kotoku and depressian over a coming separation; her failing health; 
and also the horror cf dying a lingering death that she had first men- 
tioned years before. 

These letters Suga wrote Kotoku not only express the fact that at 
that point in time she was intent on dying meaningfully; they also 
show that she was wavering between worrying about going to prison 
and being resolved that it was the best course. The tone of each of 
the following three letters written over a period of six days is quite dif- 
ferent. The first seem:: to have been written in despair, the second in a 
spirit of calm resignation, and the third with a feeling of determina- 
tion. Far from constituting evidence of her general ‘mental instability’ 
by that time, they show her to be a human being reacting naturally to 
an extraordinarily difficult and painful situation: 

I just spent two or three hours sewing with my chest hurting feeling 
poorly perhaps because of the weather. All day I’ve been feeling 
pessimistic. Senseless human existence! I’ve long breathed [life’s] 
chilly air, and I can [no longer] endure it. Life! The agony of life. 
To what purpose do mortals continue on their journey of meaning- 
less wretchedness? 


11 May, Evening. [Signed] Yu. 



Kanno Suga (1902-1911) 179 

[The following was scribbled on the outside of the envelope.] 12th, 
a.m. Yesterday and today a letter had not come from you - are you 
unwell? 


[To] My Beloved Sui-sama [Shusui], 

I sent that wild letter, then went to the bath-house, but am very 
unwell. And of course, even though I had written in such a 
manner, it was because I was impatiently waiting for a letter. Mean- 
while your letter came, [leaving me] prostrated with tears, with inex- 
pressible feelings of mortification and pain. Now I am feeling much 
better. When I looked at your graceful, dear handwriting, the things 
that were vexing me till now suddenly vanished like smoke. Your 
sending me such a kind letter makes it difficult to reply because 
I’ve caused you such pain. I’d resolved to enter prison without 
saying anything, but having seen your letter I feel I must write in 
humble apology. What manner of childish, foolish person am I? 
Please forgive me. I was thinking only of you and became hysterical 
like that, and I’ve also been unwell since I saw you. Thus I became a 
bit morbid out of love and loneliness From now on I’ll keep in 
good humour and write a letter every day during these [remaining] 
five days. I must resign myself to going [into prison]. There is no 
point in wasting my days of freedom hoping. ... I ask affectionately 
that you please take care of yourself. I f you keep in good health, I 
won’t mind how many years I’m in prison. I won’t even mind dying. 
This makes it my third letter today. 


12 May. [Signed] ‘Yu’ 

[In a postscript she noted that she also had a cold, and told Kotoku 
to look out for some medicine she was sending him]. 


16th May, 2 p.m. Last night I had a terrible fever. I have no idea 
what my temperature was. I tossed about suffering. Today too, 
when I doze off I become soaked in perspiration. For the first 
time I took up my chopsticks for a meal. Naturally, it didn’t taste 
any good. Tomorrow I intend to take it easy and go by rickshaw 
to see [Dr] Kitsuda. I didn’t go out at all today. I wonder if it’s 
because of the recent strain that my cold has worsened so much. 
But as you say, all is fate. When you hear of my current illness, 
you’ll probably tell me I must postpone going into prison. But I 



180 Life-narratives 

will go resolutely. I’d rather sleep in prison than here. It’d be better 
to die in prison than linger on and die here. That would have some 
meaning. Then there would be some consolation in death. I’m tired 
so I’ll write later. 

5 p.m. Yoshikawa came and chatted for about two hours. There’s 
some significant news too. 142 

Yoshikawa Morikuni was a socialist, but not one of the conspirators. 
It is not clear what the ‘significant news’ mentioned in the last letter 
was. Also, I have excluded what follows ‘hoping’ in the second letter 
because Suga did not say anything further about what she was 
‘hoping’ for. There is a definite suggestion in the second letter, 
where she said that she would not mind how long she was in prison 
so long as Kotoku kept in good health, that she viewed her sacrifice 
for him as worthwhile because she had spared him from prison. 

At face value, these letters appear to reflect a confused state of mind. 
As to their contexts, however, the first was apparently written while 
Suga was depressed over both her illness and the fact that she had 
not heard from Kdtoku since coming to Tokyo. When she received 
a letter from him just after sending it, she clearly felt guilty about 
the tone of her first letter and sat down to write a calm and apologetic 
response. The tone of the first letter was not only one of despair but 
probably also accusation. Certainly, she was accusing him for not 
writing, but there might have been another accusation implied in her 
sending him such a depressing letter only a week before her imprison- 
ment. He felt guilty enough about the fact that it was Suga rather 
than he who was going to prison. 143 In a letter to his family dated 
27 September 1909, iotoku expressed his certainty that she would 
die in prison, and though he was ‘at a loss to know what to do, he 
had to do something’. Raising the money for her fine was ‘entirely 
[his] responsibility’. He was more explicit about the ‘cruel sacrifice’ 
he had allowed Suga to make in his letter to Arahata of 20 May. 
Hence, it is unlikely that Suga’s letter of 1 1 May would have assuaged 
Kotoku’s guilt - quite the contrary - which is probably why she imme- 
diately wrote in apolcgy on receiving a ‘kind’ letter from him. But, if 
there was only an implicit accusation in her first letter, where she told 
him of her despair just days before going to prison in connection with 
a publication not her responsibility’, her tone of accusation was more 
explicit five days later. 

Suga’s letter of 16 May could be read as a show of bravado. Perhaps 
when she insisted that she would rather die in prison, she was trying to 



Kanno Suga ( 1902-1911 ) 181 

alleviate Kotoku s frustration over not being able to raise the money 
for her fines. Was she simply saying that he should not worry because 
she herself did not care one way or another? Perhaps - and perhaps 
not. Her protesting her willingness to go to jail, and render her 
death ‘meaningful’ by dying in prison, would have been small consola- 
tion for a man accused of ‘selling out’. Kotoku, at this time, might 
have been going through a crisis of confidence, in despair partly 
because of the political persecution and resultant poverty, and partly 
because he seemed to believe himself to be ineffectual and lacking in 
determination. 144 

If Suga seemed inconsistent at this time, it was doubtless because she 
was wavering between despair and a desperate need to act. She must 
have often despaired at her physical condition, at the many problems 
in her personal-political life, and perhaps at life itself which (certainly 
on 11 May 1910) seemed to have no meaningful purpose. Further- 
more, she could not work politically without being thrown into 
prison. At this point she gave the impression that if she could not 
do something purposeful before her death, she would ensure that the 
manner of her death (in prison) would render her life meaningful. 
When she wrote these letters, Suga had not ruled out the possibility 
of rebellion, because she hoped to be out of prison in 100 days if 
her health did not fail her. Unbeknownst to Kotoku, the night 
before she was due to enter prison, she had met with her three co- 
conspirators, Miyashita Daikichi, Furukawa Rikisaku and Niimura 
Tadao, to make final plans for an imperial assassination attempt. 
Their meeting was on 17 May, the day after her third letter to 
Kotoku. Here they drew straws to see who would throw the first 
bomb and Suga won. 145 By 16 May, then, she was no longer in despair 
but again ‘resolute’ that she would survive her term to follow in the 
footsteps of the Russian regicide, Sofia Perovskaya. 

Yet even in the letter Suga had written to one of the conspirators, 
Furukawa Rikisaku, a month earlier, she had expressed her deter- 
mination to go ahead with their plans. She ended that letter as 
follows: 

I look at the newspapers and my blood boils. Rebellion! Revo- 
lution! My own lack of strength is so vexing I can’t endure it. I’m 
constantly thinking of ways of shoring up my bodily strength a 
little, waiting for their guard [the state’s] to slip a little, and then 
ending by carrying out an action that has meaning and is coloured 
with a little ‘dedication’. 



182 Life-narratives 


I’ll probably return to Tokyo at the end of the month. The details 
I’ll leave till we meet. 

18th April, [Signed] Tsuki. 146 

There is not much doubt that she was telling her co-conspirator that in 
her mind revolution was still ‘on the agenda’. The only other thing of 
interest in the letter was her explanation that Kotoku would remain in 
Yugawara until his refutation of Christianity was completed, which 
indicated that he had not withdrawn from the struggle. 

Since socialists could no longer organize nor publish and even had 
difficulty surviving economically because of fines and the lack of 
employment opportunities, it is reasonable to assume that among 
Suga’s motives for deciding on a violent course of action were frustra- 
tion, desperation, a desire to prove herself, and also a determination to 
exact revenge on the r persecutors. Many socialists then believed that 
violence begets violence, as noted earlier. Arahata might have con- 
demned Suga for her ‘putchism’ much later but in 1907 he had justified 
retaliatory revolutior ary violence. 147 Nor did Kotoku ever completely 
condemn terrorism, even if he opposed it on theoretical grounds. 
During the trial he referred to it as ‘more or less legitimate self- 
defence’ on the part of ‘hot-blooded youths [who] . . . lacked any 
other means of resistance’. 148 He also observed that Suga’s view of 
‘revolution’ was based on the Russian experience (Russian populist 
terrorism). 149 


II 

When for the third time in as many years Suga entered prison on 
18 May 1910, she did not have any idea that she was already under 
suspicion for involvement in an anti-imperial plot, and that her 
three co-conspirators would be arrested a week later. While she sus- 
pected that she would not leave prison alive, she could not have fore- 
seen that within a year she would go to the gallows. The trial records 
reveal that when first charged with plotting to assassinate the emperor 
she was unco-operative, though this was due to the fact that her old 
‘enemy’, Taketomi Wataru, was the assigned prosecutor. In the very 
first sentence of her first statement to the prosecution she flatly 
denied that she, Miyashita Daikichi and others had been ‘conspiring 
to commit regicide by means of a bomb’, though later she was 
happy to admit to it. 



Kanno Suga (1902-1911) 183 


Suga’s relationship with this ‘paternal’ figure, who apparently 
became more ‘benevolent’ in direct response to her refusal to talk to 
him, is of particular interest because she did end up trusting him 
with personal details about her life. She was aware that such knowl- 
edge might be used against her, but she had long treated her lived 
experience as evidence of the moral-political rectitude of her beliefs 
and actions. Yet unlike Fumiko, Suga did not explicitly use her life- 
story as a weapon against power formally during her trial - at least, 
not so far as one can see from the pretrial records. She only seems 
to have done this off the record when she swapped ‘wretched’ life- 
stories with Taketomi. 150 After a career of confronting audiences with 
her account of life’s realities through the telling of chapters of her own 
life-story (or of women like herself), Suga did not now take the oppor- 
tunity to proselytize in such a way during the pretrial hearing. She did 
not, like Fumiko, treat her enemies to a step-by-step, detailed account 
of the social construction of a rebel. She made statements or answered 
formal questions about her life in a very matter-of-fact manner with- 
out going into much detail. All she said about her family background 
was as follows: 

[From Declaration to Prosecution of 3 June 1910] 

My parents were quite wealthy in the beginning but when I was ten 
years old Father’s mining business failed suddenly causing us to 
have great difficulty surviving. Then when I was eleven we lost 
Mother and I was raised by a stepmother, and had a very unhappy 
life. When I married into a merchant family at seventeen I was pre- 
disposed to enjoy reading and dislike business, so because Father 
had a stroke when I was twenty-one I left my marital home on 
the pretext of nursing him. After that I worked as a journalist 
and writer. 

My schooling was restricted to elementary school; otherwise I am 
entirely self-educated. 151 

Yet it was in this same statement that she spoke at length about being 
inspired by Sofia Perovskaya; avowed her readiness to die for the 
cause; described how she had first become a socialist; and also gave 
her reasons for joining the radical anarchist faction. 

Prosecutors and judges were very interested in Suga’s ‘personal’ [sic] 
connections with comrades, particularly the anarcho-communist ‘ring- 
leader’, Kotoku. But she said little about her personal life unless 
pressed to explain further. In that same statement to the prosecution 
on 3 June she said: 



184 Life-narratives 

I had formerly been a comrade and acquaintance of Kotoku 
Denjiro and had respect and affection for him as our mentor 
[senpai], but from before the Red Flag Incident of the year before 
last, my previous husband Arahata Kanson and I had separated 
by mutual agreement. K5toku and I were in love from that time. 
Therefore, from March last year I lived and worked with 
K5toku. We lived as husband and wife from June last year. 152 

In her first court interrogation the judge still asked for clarification of 
her marital status: 

[From Preliminary Court Interrogation Record of 3 June 1910] 
Q13: Are you anyone’s wife at present? 

Ans: I am K5toku Denjiro [Shusui]’s wife. 

Q14: Since when have you been in this relationship with Kotoku? 
Ans: Since June last year. 

Q15: How did it come about? 

Ans: Kotoku was producing the magazine, Jiyu Shiso, from the 
Heiminsha and I helped out, putting it out under my name. My 
relationship with Kotoku came about because of that. 

Q16: Didn’t you become involved because you were of like mind or 
agreed on political doctrine [shugij! 

Ans: I respected and had affection for Kotoku as a mentor. 

Q1 7: But weren’t you the wife of Arahata Katsuzo [Kanson] at that 
time? 

Ans: No, I was not. I had formerly had a relationship with him, but 
before I, Arahata and others were imprisoned in the Red Flag Inci- 
dent in 1908, I had separated from him by mutual agreement and 
we were living apart. But because Arahata was stripped naked, 
kicked and violently beaten by policemen when detained by 
Kanda police in the Red Flag Incident, we were all moved to 
tears with pity. I really felt for him and consoled him, and on the 
basis of that the police declared that I was his wife. I was acquitted 
but Arahata was found guilty and, naturally, so I could easily take 
parcels into prison while he was in Chiba Gaol I kept up the pre- 
tence of being his wife. Thus, before my relationship with 
K5toku, I had already broken up with Arahata. 153 

It is highly unlikely that the judge did not know of the love scandal 
earlier and was simply trying to establish who Suga’s husband was. 
What is more likely is that he wanted to know if Arahata was still 
part of their extremis : circle after the separation from Suga. However, 
she was clearly on the defensive for another reason - the love scandal - 



Kanno Suga (1902-1911) 185 


and thus did not take the opportunity to defend free love. She seemed 
to be more intent on defending her own moral character or chastity by 
denying that she had been sexually involved with two men at the same 
time. One wonders why a simple ‘So?’ did not suffice in answer to 
question 17, though one would need to exercise caution in assuming 
that she understood by ‘free love’ the same thing as anarchists else- 
where (Emma Goldman, for example). In Japan, then, even some of 
the anarchists of the day understood ‘ free love’ to mean merely the 
freedom to choose one’s marital partner. 154 

The possibility that on such issues judge and defendant were talking 
at cross-purposes is clearer in a later interrogation when the same 
Judge (Harada Ko) asked for more detail about Arahata. What he 
probably wanted to know was whether their separation had been 
over personal or political differences. 

[From Preliminary Court Interrogation Record of 5 June 1910] 

Q8: When did your relationship with Arahata begin? 

Ans: When the person in charge of the Muro Shinpo in Kishu 
[Wakayama] was arrested about four years ago on a charge of 
using abusive language about Governor Kiyosumi, I went to the 
paper as editor. I came to know Arahata at that time because he 
was helping out. When I had just returned to Kyoto during that 
same year a letter came from Arahata who had returned to 
Tokyo; and when he came to visit me in Kyoto we became involved. 
Q9: When was it that you definitely broke up with Arahata? 

Ans: The Red Flag Incident occurred in June 1908; it was a little 
before that. 

Q10: What was the main reason for your breaking up with 
Arahata? 

Ans: Because Arahata is four or five years younger than me, I dealt 
with everything in our life [together] as the big sister. Also, as a 
writer he might have managed, but as a socialist he couldn’t get 
work, so it might have been all right to look after him as my 
younger brother, but as a husband he was not suitable. In addition, 
even on Arahata’s side, because he was predisposed to treat me as 
an elder sister he was in awe of, we did not ultimately hit it off as 
husband and wife. 155 

What she inadvertently told the judge was that her differences with 
Arahata had only been personal, not political, that he was an anarchist 
too. It was fortunate for Arahata that he was one of those in jail for 
much of the period of the conspiracy and not in any danger of 
being implicated. Consequently, the judge now turned his attention 



1 86 Life-narratives 

to K5toku and the Heiminsha again: the authorities were not going to 
let him slip through their fingers. They could not have been very 
impressed by the (lesser?) role the guilty defendants accorded him. 
One of the lawyer Hiraide Shu’s pseudo-fictional stories, ‘Keikaku’ 
(‘The Plot’), depicts this view of Kotoku when the heroine decides 
that even if the hero has a last-minute desire to rejoin them, she 
must save him so that he can continue with his revolutionary 
‘scholarship’. 156 

It is obvious that the authorities did use knowledge of Suga’s per- 
sonal life against hei in some ways: for example, when they tried to 
alienate her from Kotoku by harping on his reconciliation with his 
former wife. The judges were probably disappointed that it made 
little difference to the degree to which Suga would implicate him in 
the plot. The following makes their ploy rather transparent: 

[From the Sixth Preliminary Court Interrogation of 13 June 1910] 
Q10: Was Kotoku the first in our nation to advocate anarcho- 
communism? 

Ans: Yes . . . 

Q 1 1 : Then you and the other defendants who participated in this 
plan all advocated anarcho-communism with Kotoku’s encourage- 
ment? 

Ans: That’s right. 

Q14: When was it that K5toku vacillated about putting the whole 
of this plan into practice? 

Ans: It was from about January this year. 

Q15: Didn’t you a 1 agree that you wanted Kotoku to survive you? 
Ans: According tc the plan, if Kotoku survived when we died he 
would communicate the news to comrades overseas for us. If 
Kotoku died with us, we wouldn’t be able to send the news over- 
seas, and this wou d not be at all beneficial to the natural develop- 
ment of anarcho-communism in Japan . . . 

Q19: Wasn’t it the case that Kotoku believed that avoiding putting 
it into practice himself and keeping himself alive would be beneficial 
for the development of anarchism? 

Ans: I don’t know Kotoku’s intentions but that is what I thought. I 
said this to Kotoku at Yugawara. And the others felt the same way. 
Q20: Isn’t it the case that by now Kotoku has abandoned 
anarchism? 

Ans: He has not aoandoned it. 

Q21: Didn’t Kotoku tell you that he was divorcing you and asking 



Kanno Suga (1902-1911) 187 


his former wife, Chiyo, to come back? 

Ans: I did not hear anything like that. 

Q22: But doesn’t Chiyo still now have a relationship with Kotoku, 
living by means of his support? 

Ans: Apparently she has been receiving 12 yen for her monthly 
living expenses from Kotoku. 157 

The judge must have been rather deflated at her knowing about the 
money K5toku was sending to Chiyoko - if his intention was to under- 
mine Suga’s confidence in Kotoku to the extent of getting her to impli- 
cate him further, he would have been disappointed. Even when 
she obviously felt betrayed by him, she did not change her story 
about his innocence. In the thirteenth pretrial court interrogation of 
17 October she said no more than that he had once got carried away 
with the idea of assassinating the emperor and so on, but from January 
1910 his ‘revolutionary fervour cooled’ and his attitude toward putting 
the plan into action was too ‘vague’ for the plotters to include him in 
further plans. 158 

It is clear that in Suga’s testimonies she was saying no more than 
was necessary. She was not taking the opportunity to proselytize at 
length on any topic. Perhaps she did not see any point in expending 
energy on preaching to those unlikely to be converted. The only way 
she used her experience of life as a weapon against the socio-political 
system was when she pointed out in rather Mencian fashion that the 
state itself was responsible for the conspiracy because of its lack of 
tolerance for democracy and its unduly repressive actions. One does 
not find in Suga’s trial testimonies a systematic counter-ideological 
use of her lived reality, though this is not to say that she did not con- 
tinue to defy power in other ways. 

Ill 

Even some of her comrades might not have always been the best of 
friends to Suga, but at the very end of her life she was not embittered 
about humanity. Quite the contrary. She was not like the often mis- 
anthropic Fumiko. In Suga’s diary she included reminiscences of 
happy times with family and friends; 159 and also wrote about the 
ideal society that would inevitably come. In her last written texts she 
was quite positive about humanity and lif e, if not about contemporary 
society. 

Over her own regicidal -patricidal’ part in the affair, Suga expressed 
both guilt and pride. In a letter to Kotoku’s niece she expressed both 



1 88 Life-narratives 


‘resignation’ and ‘satisfaction’ with her sentence. She sympathized 
with the family over Kotoku’s fate, but did not take responsibility 
for his coming death: rather, she flatly stated that it was both his 
and her ‘destiny’. 160 In another letter to Yoshikawa Morikuni three 
days later she spoke of how happy and relieved she was that half 
the defendants had been granted a reprieve. She expressed the con- 
viction that they must have been those she ‘knew to be innocent’, to 
which she added, ‘H earing this, half the burden on my shoulders 
was lifted.’ 161 This would-be terrorist made no apology for herself in 
1910-1911; she did not repent of anything but the fact that her actions 
had enabled the state to frame innocent bystanders. 

Nor was she only looking for sympathy when she spoke of the 
misery of her past informally to Taketomi. In a manner not unlike 
Fumiko’s she might have been saying, ‘Look at what you have made 
me!’ Yet she was not just representing herself as a social victim. In 
that same diary entry about speaking to Taketomi of the ‘circum- 
stances of her wretched past’, she said that this was ‘such that it had 
only been through [her] unwillingness to accept defeat that [she] had 
had the good fortune- not to become a prostitute or girl spinner’. 162 
What she seemed to be emphasizing was that it was through her deter- 
mination that she had been able to transcend her powerless origins, 
and become the ‘enemy’ who now faced the judges. When talking to 
enemies in prison or court, this ‘traitor’ did not want to be an object 
of pity. 

CONCLUSION 

Throughout her career of almost a decade of political action, Suga 
engaged in dialogues with ‘Power’ in which she left little doubt that 
her view of reality was different from that of the mainstream. In pre- 
senting the harsh realities of life she had had little trouble seeing 
through the ‘veils’ the t obscured the faces of most of her paternalistic 
opponents. When she first refused to talk about her past to Prosecutor 
Taketomi she was afraid that he would ‘distort everything and use it 
against [her]’ - nevertheless, to him she then narrated her whole life- 
story. 163 She added that ‘only those able to bleed and cry, who care 
about social problems’, could be compassionate about her story; she 
believed that his ‘eyes’ had told her that he was not just ‘pandering 
to [her] ego’, trying to get her to talk. Now he did not seem ‘sinister’ 
after all. It was clear to her from his stories about his own ‘deprived’ 
background that he was able to empathize with her story. Clearly, she 
had softened toward this man she had at first threatened to kill. Here 



Kanno Suga ( 1902-1911 ) 189 


we see the humanistic, perhaps even the still-Christian side of Suga. 
Her swapping tales about her life with him at this point was consistent 
with her use of her life experience as evidence of the correctness of her 
ideas and actions; but it also could have been related to an inability to 
think anyone (except, perhaps, Yamagata Aritomo) entirely evil. 

In such a hostile situation she might have been unusually vulnerable 
to paternalistic figures. However, even much earlier when she told her 
‘story’, Suga seems to have assumed a degree of understanding that 
was not always forthcoming. Betrayal of women by men is a theme 
that runs throughout Suga’s constructions of life whether in her 
early writings or her prison texts, even if she did mention exceptions 
like Sakai Toshihiko. First there was her father: if he did not fail 
her, there is still the father in ‘Omokage’ who betrayed both dead 
mother and family by bringing his evil and cruel geisha mistress into 
the house improperly soon after the mother’s death; and the father 
in ‘Tsuyuko’ who ‘sold’ her. Then, if we can take Arahata at his 
word, there was Mori’s offer of ‘marriage’ to Suga, and Arahata’s 
own role in the ‘love incident’. Finally, there was Kotoku’s attempt 
while in prison at a reconciliation with his wife. 

It was probably as early as 1902 that Suga decided that she would 
no longer be a passive victim. Even her account of the destruction 
of Oitako’s purity by two men must have been a calculated attempt 
to change the ways in which she and other women were treated. 
Later she depicted more of life’s bitter realities both when she wrote 
of ‘conceit’, hypocrisy and a view of women as commodities in a 
‘world of men’, and when she described prison conditions or treated 
her readers to an account of her life at the Heiminsha headquarters 
with Kotoku and their avid audience: both the police across the 
road having their ‘garden-party’, and ‘socialist’ moral critics. 

When Suga ascribed meaning to life , through her telling of chapters 
of her own story, or that of a Suga look-alike, she often represented 
life as a fight against social iniquities and, increasingly, state power. 
Power was mainly personified in the figures of various types of patri- 
archs - men who brutalized, exploited, or ultimately betrayed women, 
and also the government, police, prosecutors, and judges who both 
patronized and persecuted their ‘children’ in the name of the emperor. 
Suga was a social being, and she was not alone in painting a picture of 
life in late Meiji as an escalating fight against power. Her early works, 
however, do not suggest that she then saw a struggle against power as 
life’s defining characteristic. If her metaphor for life was ‘struggle’, it 
was particularly so from mid- 1908, though there hints of such a repre- 
sentation from 1906. 



190 Life-narratives 

The picture of Kamo Suga in 1910-1911 became the one most com- 
mitted to historical memory, and this has tended to cloud other, earlier 
pictures. This has obvious implications for the biographer: for in some 
ways, Suga the moral reformer was still present in Suga the free lover, 
just as Suga the ‘direct actionist’ (or, rather, socialist shishi) can be 
detected in the earliei impatient reformist; Suga the Christian, more- 
over, might still have had some influence upon the traitor who was 
unable in the end to hate those who posed a mortal threat to her. 
Clearly, working fron preconceptions about a lineal ideational pro- 
gression (from moral reformer to women’s emancipationist to refor- 
mist feminist-socialist to revolutionary anarchist) makes it difficult 
to come to terms with the complex, many-centred Kanno Suga at 
any given point in time. However long one gazes at the snapshot of 
Suga as she was last known, one will never ‘know’ the Suga of 1906, 
of 1902 or, most of all, of her earlier years. Yet what can be known 
is that however many adult Sugas there were, there was one who con- 
sistently countered what she saw to be ideological representations of 
life, and was not prepared to resign herself either to them or to a 
personal destiny determined by others. 



8 Kaneko Fumiko (1922-1926) 


TEXTS AND CONTEXTS 

Accounts of Kaneko Fumiko’s life have been based almost entirely on 
her memoirs; authors have seldom utilized other prison documents 
such as her testimonies extensively or to good effect, more rarely 
still put to use those of people called as witnesses during the trial. 
This notwithstanding, neither the nature of her immediate audience 
nor the extraordinary context of her writing has prevented scholars 
from taking her story of life at face value. 1 They have not asked 
what she meant by answering Judge Tatematsu’s question about 
how she came to nihilism with a detailed life-story - and then, at his 
suggestion, following up with an even more detailed written version. 

In order to make sense of Fumiko ’s construction of life when in 
prison, one must reflect on what she was doing when she told her 
life story or in other ways knowingly presented a view of reality that 
did not accord with that of her political opponents. One thing she 
was doing was saying to figures of authority, and not just judges 
and prosecutors: ‘It was you who made me like this!’ She illustrated 
her point about how oppressively unequal a society Taisho Japan 
was by using her own lived experience as evidence; it was one of the 
few weapons against state and society available to her after her 
arrest on 3 September 1923. Thus, one cannot forget that the ways 
in which Fumiko ascribed meaning to her own life and to life itself 
were inseparable from the immediate context in which she interpreted 
them. Impending death in a sense determined her ascription of mean- 
ing to her life, and this, moreover, was a death that would be inflicted 
by the state. So there are various reasons for the need not to treat 
Fumiko’s life-construct as ‘the Truth’ in empiricist style, but to 
accept it merely as her (1923-1926) truth. Emphasizing that reality is 
partial is not to say that her discursive representations were entirely 



192 Life-narratives 

individual, however, that she did not perceive reality in a similar way 
to others because of shared experience (class, gender, ethnicity) or 
current situation. 

An epistemological concern with the ever-changing, dialectical inter- 
play between an individual’s context and texts, situation and actions 
should lead one to ask questions about whether Fumiko would have 
acted in exactly the same way before and after being arrested (or sen- 
tenced). Would she have told her story in the same way if her final 
clash with society and state power had not come about? Almost cer- 
tainly, she would not Yet to say that the story she told must have 
been selective - ‘partial’ in both senses of the word - is not to say 
that she was consciously practising a deception. In the mid- 1920s 
she probably believed that someone both with her experience of life 
and an ability to see through ideological deceptions would finally see 
state and society through the eyes of a ‘nihilist’. 

The irony about the life-story that Fumiko presented (in a prison 
cell or courtroom drama), moreover, is that biographers intent on 
demonstrating even its plausibility need not rely only on her account. 
Compared to Suga’s case where only a few intimates participated in a 
public construction of her life and its meaning, with Fumiko many wit- 
nesses called to testify at the pretrial in the District Court supplied 
information about her background. 2 That Judge Tatematsu was so 
much more interested in Fumiko’s personal background (her pitiable 
story) than officials ir the former case is itself an indication of the 
further development o' an emperor-system based upon the hegemonic 
‘family-state’ ideology of harmony, benevolence and paternalism. And 
one rare, positive result of this ‘familial’ affection on the part of Tate- 
matsu is that the researcher interested in Fumiko’s personal-political 
career has access not only to the testimonies of other Futeisha mem- 
bers or defendants, but also to witness interrogation records from 
her acquaintances, former employers and family members. So it 
might first be noted fiat the testimonies by members of her family 
(particularly her mother and maternal grandmother) generally verified 
the ‘facts’ of the story that Fumiko told about her childhood and 
upbringing. 3 

In this chapter where I first discuss the life-story Fumiko narrated in 
her memoir and early testimonies, the witness interrogation records 
are also utilized. This s not to verify the ‘truth’ of her life-story, but 
rather to help interpret it or to provide supplementary contextual 
information about the episodes in her life she discussed. More impor- 
tantly, at times this brings into sharper relief the degree to which her 
presentation of her story and representation of life were oppositional 



Kaneko Fumiko ( 1922-1926) 193 


constructs: representations of social reality that differed, for example, 
from her father’s. One would not expect Fumiko and her father to tell 
the same story; indeed, for her he symbolized the common authoritar- 
ian, hypocritical, paternalistic ideas that she set out to counter. In that 
connection I should also emphasize that the witness and other interro- 
gation records reveal quite a lot about the patriarchal rituals that were 
going on in court - the judge’s ‘fatherly’ performance of benevolence, 
for example, in looking for details in Fumiko’s past that, ostensibly at 
least, were to be used in her defence. 4 (As for Fumiko herself, however, 
while she was clearly using her life-story as a defence in the sense that 
she insisted that she was partly the product of family and society, she 
also demanded that the judge find her guilty.) Some of those rituals in 
court and interrogation rooms, moreover, will be looked at again in 
the closing section of the chapter where I consider further what Fumi- 
ko’s, Pak’s and other Futeisha testimonies reveal about the trial itself 
and the question of her ‘treasonous’ (and, by extension, her ‘treacher- 
ous’) intent. Finally, use of these testi monies can also help one avoid 
repeating the pseudonyms Fumiko used for family and acquaintances 
in her original manuscript. 

We already know that Fumiko from 1923, much like Suga late in 
her life, came to present herself as having been a continual struggle 
against power. This is not surprising, since she was now in the midst 
of what was likely to be her final clash with it. Her adult world- 
view, which she summed up with the word ‘nihilism’, Fumiko pre- 
sented as the sum of her life experience; and on more than one occa- 
sion she explicitly insisted, in the fashion of Artzibashev, that her 
way of seeing the world and human existence had not come from 
books but from life itself. More than once she emphasized that 
amongst the things that had made her what she was was first and fore- 
most her family situation. She was scathing about her parents in her 
second court interrogation where she ended with a denouncement of 
social demands for filial piety. How could she be filial, indeed, to 
people from whom she had never received parental love, who had 
never been real parents to her? It was in her penultimate remark on 
that day (17 January 1924) that she insisted that she did not bear a 
‘grudge’ against her parents for all the pain and hardship they had 
caused her, but because of that long period of hardship she had 
come to ‘curse nature, society and all that lives, [and] want to die, 
annihilating everything’. 5 Part II revealed one Fumiko, the ‘amoralist’ 
critic of conventional morality, but when looking at the way in which 
she sometimes sat in judgement of her parents’ moral laxity, we find 
that she was not entirely consistent in this. 



194 Life-narratives 

Before turning to the ‘family portrait’ painted by Fumiko and 
comparing and cont rasting it with others, however, we need to 
pause over the few brie f pre-prison texts that remain to us, and consider 
what they suggest about how she presented life in 1922-1923 (before 
her imprisonment) to an audience presumed to be actual or potential 
social ‘malcontents’: Korean or Japanese radicals, whether inde- 
pendence activists, anarchists, syndicalists, nihilists or communists. 
By the time Fumiko started to publish the occasional article in the 
spring of 1922, she had already been in Tokyo for two years, so we 
also need to consider (tow this busy metropolis would have looked in 
the early 1920s to a struggling, self-supporting student who, according 
to her own account later, had been developing into a bit of a rebel for 
quite some time. If so, we would expect her soon to come into contact 
with the socialist community and that she did, apparently, almost as 
soon as she arrived. 


1922-1923 

The Meiji High Treason Incident had brought left-wing activity vir- 
tually to a standstill but, as Suga had forecast, in a few years Japanese 
socialism did ‘bloom’ again after its fuyu no jidai (winter period). In 
the atmosphere of shock at the sentences, some anarchists and state 
socialists ceased polit cal activity altogether while others went into 
quasi-retirement. The anarchist magazine Kindai Shiso ( Modern 
Thought), for example, was published in the guise of a purely literary 
journal by Osugi Sakae and Arahata Kanson from 19 12. 6 Their radi- 
calism was concealed within articles ostensibly only about aesthetics, 
philosophy and literary theory. 7 During the First World War, how- 
ever, there was a spontaneous resurgence of organized labour, and 
within the more liberal environment after 191 1 when Saionji Kinmochi 
again became prime minister, even anarcho-syndicalist unions began 
organizing. In 1917 ararchists formed an industrial union of printing 
and metal workers, the Shin’yukai (Faithful Friends’ Society), which 
was followed two yea rs later by another anarchist printing union, 
the Seishinkai (True Progress Association). 8 Groups of like-minded 
comrades also formed study groups like the Hokufukai (North 
Wind Society). 

The general trend by 1919 toward radicalism both within and with- 
out the labour movement was accompanied by the creation of several 
anarchistic papers and organizations. Around this time anarchist 
activities included the publication of Rodo Undo ( Labour Movement ) 



Kaneko Fumiko ( 1922-1926) 195 


by Osugi, Kondo Kenji, Wada Kyutaro and others; and also the estab- 
lishment of the Tokyo R5do Undo Domeikai (Tokyo Labour Move- 
ment League). Anarchists participated in a broad united front of 
socialists, the Nihon Shakaishugi Domei (Japan Socialist League), 
while some like Iwasa Sakutaro and Furuta Daijiro later formed 
their own organizations like the Kosakuninsha (Tenant Farmers’ 
League). 9 The intense interest on the Left in the various streams of 
anarchism was also reflected in non-anarchist journals and papers. 
Students of Tokyo Imperial University had established the Shinjinkai 
(New People’s Society) in 1919, and before long the Society’s magazine 
contained articles on the thought of Kropotkin, Sorel and Stirner. 10 
Before long anarchist women, too, were organizing, for example in 
the Sekirankai (Red Wave Society) of the early 1920s. Anarchism 
was virtually the only prominent radical doctrine until 1922 when 
the Japan Communist Party was formed. This, therefore, was the 
same year that the government reacted, to the ‘twin evils’ of anarchism 
and communism by introducing the Law to Control Radical Social 
Movements. This bill was ultimately replaced by the more stringent 
Peace Preservation Law of 1925, after which repression of the Left 
again became severe. 


To social misfits and malcontents 

By the time Fumiko wrote the few short articles I will consider here, 
she apparently already saw herself as a nihilist. 11 In Kokuto ( Black 
Wave ) of August 1922 there are two ar ticles by her; and she is referred 
to elsewhere in this and later publications as ‘Pak Fumiko’, a name she 
obviously used then and later to make a political statement. 12 This was 
a magazine put out by mainly Korean comrades who were a mixed 
group of socialists led by Pak Yeol. Fumiko explained in one of her 
interrogations that the Kokutokai, established in the autumn of 
1921, soon split into an anarchist and a communist faction named 
the Kokuyukai (Black Friends Society) and the Hokuseikai (North 
Star Society), respectively. This paralleled the inevitable rivalry 
between libertarian and state socialists (both social democratic and 
Marxist-Leninist) that intensified with the formation of the Japan 
Communist Party in 1922. 

Thus, the time at which Fumiko said she had become committed 
to anarcho-nihilism was a period of intense rivalry between anarch- 
ists and Marxists: the ‘ ana-boru (anarchist-bolshevik) split. Excited 
by the Russian Revolution and convinced that Marxism-Leninism 



196 Life-narratives 

represented the ‘science of successful revolution’, some Japanese anar- 
chists and syndicalists converted to communism prior to the establish- 
ment of the Party; others moved camp after communists began to 
make some headway in the labour movement. Yet Osugi well 
expressed the scepticism amongst anarchists about communist motives 
for participation in any ‘united front’: their desire merely to exploit it 
and seize leadership. 13 Hence, many retained their suspicion of 
‘authoritarian’ socialism and centralism and their commitment to lib- 
ertarian ideals and modes of organization. Printing workers were not 
only in the forefront of some of the earliest anarchist labour struggles, 
but were also among the most enduring of Japan’s militant prewar 
unionists. 14 It was as a member of the Seishinkai that Osugi spoke 
when on 15 October 1920 he reported on the outcome of a printers’ 
strike. No doubt he had been one of the organizers, or he would not 
have felt a need to apologize to the rank and file for their defeat. 15 
From 1920 or so, the Seishinkai and Shin’yukai were increasingly 
influenced by Osugi, who became one of the most vocal opponents 
of the combined social-democratic and communist push to rid the 
social-democratic labour federation (Sodomei) of anarchist influ- 
ence. 16 Thomas Stanley cites Osugi’s insistence that workers’ organiza- 
tions be based on ‘the principles of autonomy, self-government, and an 
absolute right to join or withdraw from an association at any time’. 
The right of the rank and-file to make their own decisions regarding 
whether, when, and how to act in labour struggles was sacred to anar- 
chists and syndicalists. Ultimately, however, state socialism won the 
battle in Sodomei. By early in 1923, anarchist influence in Sodomei 
was effectively neutralized; and thereafter libertarian unionists 
remained in their own associations, organizing independently. Some 
anarchists continued for a few years to participate in other areas 
together with state socialists - in the proletarian arts movement, for 
example, at least until communists engineered their expulsion. 17 

By May 1922 Fumiico and Pak had begun living and working poli- 
tically together. Niiyana Hatsuyo testified that she visited Fumiko at 
home on 15 May 1922 but found that she had moved out. Soon a letter 
came from Fumiko asking her to visit her in Shibuya in Tokyo where 
Fumiko was living with Pak; they were organizing a nihilist-anarchist 
group and producing a magazine. 18 According to Fumiko later, the 
object of the group had been to promote fraternity between like- 
minded Koreans and Japanese and propagate radical thinking. 19 

What we find written by Fumiko in the first paper, Kokuto, are a 
couple of short works of interest, one of which is a quite cynical 
piece on Korean ‘assimilation’. 20 Fumiko insisted on various occa- 



Kaneko Fumiko ( 1922-1926) 197 


sions that she had never wanted to work merely for the goal of Korean 
independence, and the fact that she was involved with a group of anar- 
chists and nihilists in 1922-1923 does suggest this. Articles in Kokuto 
do not necessarily reflect it, though Fumiko later explained in a testi- 
mony that the magazines they produced then had been deliberately 
‘moderate’. In this particular article in Kokuto Fumiko related how 
one ‘illustrious promoter’ of the assimilation of Koreans had argued 
in humanistic fashion that Koreans and Japanese shared the same 
ancestors, and the two races should therefore be on good terms. She 
pointed out that in elementary school everyone had learned that 
humanity had descended from apes; and then went on (a trifle irration- 
ally) to ask Japanese assimilationists, who argued that both races 
shared the same historical ancestors, i f they would be prepared to be 
clasped in an embrace by an ape and danced with, or if they would 
be happy to sit down at the same table and eat with apes. Then she 
insisted scornfully that those who were so ‘showy’ in ‘parading their 
love of humanity’ needed first to transform Japanese colonists in 
Korea into humans before Koreans there could assimilate with 
them. Japanese creditors, for example, who pretended to be the 
‘bosom buddies’ of Koreans, were not above literally torturing 
Korean debtors to retrieve money lent at interest rates ten times 
higher than usual. Fumiko concluded her article by explicitly com- 
menting on the ideological deception of Japanese ‘humanistic’ patern- 
alism with regards Koreans, by recommending that if nothing could be 
done to give Koreans some humans to assimilate with, this ‘gilded 
signboard’ (saying ‘assimilation’, presumably) with its thin veneer of 
gold, already peeling, might as well be pulled down. 

After Korea was annexed in 1910 and Japanese colonists had 
migrated there in increasing numbers, the colonial government did 
indeed attempt to ‘assimilate’ the two cultures: colonists turned most 
of the indigenous population into a huge lower caste, and later tried 
to suppress the Korean language and destroy Korean ethnic identity. 21 
According to Lee and de Vos, by 1940 Japanese colonists numbered 

700.000 or 3 per cent of Korea’s population. The low social status 
of Koreans is illustrated by the figures they give for the number of 
ordinary labourers among Koreans in employment: 95 per cent of 
men and 99 per cent of women. The migration of Japanese people 
to Korea was paralleled by another of Koreans to Japan, and despite 
the fact that Koreans became an oppressed minority there, as many as 

400.000 migrated in the decade following the First World War. 22 
There were thousands of Korean students in Tokyo and, like Korean 
workers, they were natural candidates for radical organizations. 23 



198 Life-narratives 

Fumiko’s second article in Kokuto was on nutrition, which might 
seem to be a rather unlikely subject. 24 Essentially, however, she was 
attacking bourgeois philanthropists for poking about where they 
were not wanted: in :he diet of the masses! (Not literally perhaps, 
because she was sceplical about whether this nutritionist, Dr Saeki, 
had ‘ever so much as peeped at the kitchens of the fourth estate’.) 
The bourgeoisie had a tiresome tendency to interfere, firstly because 
they needed something to do to stave off ennui; only secondly because 
they were concerned that the working classes did not get enough nour- 
ishment. Pity they couldn’t be more quiet about their good works, 
thought Fumiko. She was every bit as scornful here as in her other 
piece about assimilation. Proudly admitting that in their circle they 
were lucky to get three simple meals a day, she added that they did 
not get invited to banquets at mansions where they could stuff them- 
selves like these people who harped on ‘nutrition’. ‘We proletarians 
don’t want to be saved by the lily-white hands of the upper class,’ 
she insisted in anarchist style, ‘We will continue to demand free- 
dom and equality for ourselves. With our own hands we will do our 
damndest to liberate curselves.’ 

It was in November 1922, a month or two after the anarchist 
Kokuyukai had been formed, that Fumiko, Pak and friends put out 
the first issue of a magazine entitled Futoi Sen jin (Cheeky Koreans in 
Chinese characters, but also written in kana as 'Futei [rebel, lawless 
or malcontent] Senjinj. Either way, it was meant to be a parody of 
Japanese attitudes towird Korean ‘trouble-makers’. Fumiko explained 
in a testimony that they had decided to use the more innocuous char- 
acters for ‘futoi’ (meaning audacious, bold, or cheeky, etc.) when they 
imagined how the off rials in charge of censorship would probably 
react to the title by exclaiming, ‘Futoi yatsura da!’ (‘Cheeky scoun- 
drels!’). They had waited the magazine to appear ‘innocuous’ and 
intended its contents to be ‘harmless’ because it was intended as a 
‘front’ to mask their underground (‘direct action’) activities. 25 She 
remarked that the public still did not like the title and would not 
buy the magazine, so because of their need for funds in order to 
buy bombs they changed the title again to the even more moderate 
Genshakai ( Today’s Society) after the second issue. (The last issue 
was the fourth, published in June 1923.) They also needed to attract 
advertisers because advertisements in the magazine were likely to be 
their real source of funds. 26 While it is possible that actual advertise- 
ments in the paper, for example, for the Mitsukoshi department 
store, were due to (t narchist ‘plunder’: ryaku ) extortion on their 



Kaneko Fumiko ( 1922-1926) 199 

part, 27 they appear to have wanted to attract advertisers by legitimate 
means rather than with threats of reprisals if they refused. 

It was the Futeisha they secretly established to carry out ‘direct 
action’; and this Fumiko later defined as rebelling against all power 
or ‘making trouble for you officials’. 28 There is some doubt about pre- 
cisely when the Futeisha was established, since a couple of the defen- 
dants gave the date as the middle of 1922 while Fumiko said its formal 
establishment had been in mid- April 1923. Fumiko and Pak had 
specifically decided to propagate more ‘moderate’ anarchist thought 
in Futei Senjin, because the Futeisha were part of the ‘above-ground’ 
anarchist Kokuyukai. Tactically, there were differences, but ideo- 
logical lines were not always clearly drawn between the two over- 
lapping groups. Well-known anarchists like Osugi Sakae lectured at 
Kokuyukai meetings, and thus it was probably partly because the 
Futeisha were all assumed to be ‘anarchists’ that they came increas- 
ingly under surveillance by the police. (Fumiko often seemed irritated 
by the judge’s ignorance about nihilism, and the differences between 
that and anarchism.) But, of course, Pak and his radical Korean associ- 
ates had long been watched by the police, whether or not they were 
anarchists. The first sign that police were closing in was at the end 
of August 1923 when officers visited and questioned Niiyama Hatsuyo, 
who first implicated Pak in some sort of anti-imperial plot. The reason 
for their visit was a rumour circulating; in the socialist movement that 
Pak had sent a comrade named Harazawa Takenosuke to Korea to 
procure bombs. Fumiko, also, soon admitted to various attempts to 
get bombs. 29 Harazawa had been a friend of Fumiko’s since 1921, it 
seems, because one of the witnesses called to give testimony said 
that Harazawa, then in the Gyominkai (a proto-communist party), 
had recommended her for a job in his restaurant. 30 

The title these ‘cheeky/lawless/malcontent’ Koreans chose for their 
magazine seems ill-advised, though it is only with hindsight that one 
can see that doing so placed them in danger from sources other than 
police. No-one could have foreseen the massacre of Koreans and 
Chinese by police and civilian mobs after the Great Kanto Earthquake 
of 1 September 1923. By the night after the earthquake which deva- 
stated the Kanto area, many unfounded rumours had spread, partly 
due to the efforts of ultra-rightists. 31 There were tales of Koreans set- 
ting fires, poisoning wells, rioting, killing Japanese men and raping 
Japanese women. They were said to have bombed department stores 
which had burned down in the aftermath of the earthquake, and it 
was even claimed that an invasion was being planned from the main- 
land. Paranoia was rife. On 2 September, the ‘respectable’ Tokyo 



200 Life-narratives 

Mainichi Shinbun actually added its voice to the rumours, blaring out 
headlines that the government had ordered the killing of Koreans. Yet 
the smaller print which quoted government sources read: ‘Koreans and 
socialists [are] planning a rebellion and treacherous plot. We urge the 
citizens to co-operate with the military and police to guard against 
Koreans.’ 32 Then the: government declared martial law and sent 
70,000 soldiers into the city to control the expected riots. What fol- 
lowed was a bloodba:h. Soldiers, police, vigilante groups and mobs 
of hysterical civilians butchered anyone ‘different’, and the number 
of Korean dead has been estimated as over 6000 in the Kanto area 
alone. 33 There were also a few hundred Chinese victims. Doubtless 
the Futeisha were arre sted so quickly because already under police sur- 
veillance, and they were fortunate to survive both the hysteria on the 
streets and their protective custody. 

An examination of Futei/Futoi Sen jin gives some idea of how 
Fumiko represented life in the year before her arrest; it also gives an 
indication of whether it was the content of the magazine that had 
made police more interested in the Futeisha. The group had intended 
it to appear ‘harmless 1 probably because they knew that any Korean 
group would be watched by the authorities. Hence, in the first issue 
Pak scoffed at the misconception in Japan that ‘malcontent Koreans’ 
were people who cotspired to commit assassinations and wreak 
destruction. 34 But it is certain that the fine distinctions either he or 
Fumiko made between radical (nihilist) thinking and ‘moderation’ 
would have been lost on the authorities. Certainly, in the third issue 
(March 1923) there was quite a bit censored, presumably self- 
censorship before publication, and much of it had been written by 
‘Kaneko Fumi’ - two entire articles, one two pages long. The long arti- 
cle was entitled ‘To You Koreans in Japan’; and one still can read 
enough of the other ;o see that it was commemorating the March 
1919 anti-Japanese ric ts in Korea, the ‘March First Movement’. 35 It 
was entitled ‘Anniversary of the Korean [blank, blank]’ (probably 
‘revolution’ since blanks were used for this elsewhere) and the 
second para started wi:h something about ‘March 1919’. One can deci- 
pher a few words like ‘Manchurian troops’, ‘clamour’, ‘armed might’, 
‘resistance’, ‘bravery’, and finally that ‘over seventy detainees were 
released’. It was also dated 2 March 1923. Fumiko’s texts would not 
have seemed so ‘harmless’ to the authorities. 

Otherwise, there were some editorial-like pieces entitled ‘Yabureta 
Shoji kara’. It is unclear what ‘From the Torn Sliding Door’ signified, 
unless simply the shabby lodgings in which Fumiko and Pak lived. 36 
These were generally written by Fumiko. In the second issue in late 



Kaneko Fumiko ( 1922-1926) 201 


December she noted that Pak had returned from a trip to Korea 
unwell, which meant that she was late getting the manuscript to the 
printers. She wished comrades well for the New Year, expressed her 
desire that they all work hard for the movement in 1923, and reminded 
them that it was open-house at their place on Sundays. In the second 
of these ‘editorials’, she reported on less happy circumstances, how- 
ever, explaining the reasons for their not being able to publish the 
magazine between March and June 1923. Not long before May Day, 
Pak and a few other Korean comrades had been released from 
prison in very bad condition: one had nearly lost his sight in one 
eye, another was limping badly, one had terrible bruises all over his 
back, and Pak had been coughing up blood and was disoriented. 
They had been arrested in the first place for engaging in what they 
saw to be ‘direct action’ - beating up a Korean ‘fake communist’ 
collaborator - and had also tried to retaliate when police began to 
‘terrorize’ them. Later Fumiko herself was arrested at the May Day 
demonstration and spent a night in jail wrapped in a blanket with a 
few comrades and many more fleas. 

Fumiko wrote two other pieces, one each in the December and June 
issues, expressing her opposition to Japanese imperialism and 
prejudice against Koreans. Unfortunately, parts of both are illegible, 
but the one in the June issue is a conversation between ‘S’ and ‘F’ 
(Fumiko, no doubt) where ‘S’ expresses the opinion that, unlike 
Japanese people, Koreans have bad habits such as not being frugal. 
For example, they waste their money on food [.vie]. 37 ‘F’ responds 
that if so, it would not be unreasonable because the best way to 
keep one’s money to oneself is to keep it in the stomach. From here 
the conversation jumps to conscripting Koreans into the Japanese 
army, presumably topical because some politicians had argued for it. 
‘S’ asserts that this would damage Japanese culture, the suggestion 
being that Koreans are inherently inferior. ‘F’ retorts in disgust that 
compared to the other speaker even Japanese politicians are wonderful 
( erai ), apparently because they at least do not see Koreans as so cul- 
turally polluting (of Japan’s unique cultural purity) that they cannot 
be conscripted. 

In the December issue of Futei Senjin Fumiko had written one more 
longish piece entitled ‘So-called “Malcontent Koreans”?’ in which she 
defined what the term meant to her. 38 Its common usage in newspapers 
and magazines notwithstanding, its true meaning was rebelling against 
Japanese imperialism. After pointing out the hypocrisy of people who 
would regard Koreans as brave and noble if they fought with Japanese 
imperialists against a common enemy like China or Russia or Western 



202 Life-narratives 


Europe - even if it meant killing innocent civilians including the aged, 
and women and children - she concluded with the remark that 
‘revenge’ was the only way for the subjugated. So long as Korea’s 
situation remained what it was, there would always be people (like 
themselves) who would fight back: Japanese imperialism would 
always give rise to ‘rebel Koreans’. If this is an example of Fumiko’s 
‘moderation’, it is not difficult to see why the police would have 
been watching the Futeisha. Apart from the dozen or so ‘malcontents’ 
in this group who were all too vocal in their ingratitude for Japan’s 
paternal protection, there was also at least one Japanese national 
who spoke out as an eye-witness to Japan’s ‘benevolent’ colonial 
administration of Korea. 


1923-1926 

For judges and other ‘parents’ 

The Preface and Postscript to Fumiko’s memoirs appear to have been 
produced between 25 March 1926, the day she was sentenced to death, 
and 23 July 1926, the; day of her death. In the Preface she made a 
remark about wanting to ask Tatematsu to give the manuscript back 
to her; it was no further use to him, she explained, now that the 
trial was over. Thus, her memoirs must have been written between 
the beginning of 1924 and mid-1925 because Tatematsu used them 
in the pretrial. Fumiko’s preface opened with a reference to the 
horrors that followed the earthquake. 39 Then she mentioned the 
rumours and violence that preceded their arrests, and followed with 
an account of her first meeting with Judge Tatematsu. Explaining 
about how he had started to question her about her background, 
and how he had asked her to write something more about it, she 
ended with the above-mentioned dedication to comrades, parents, 
teachers and politicians. 

She did not actually give her date of birth, probably for good 
reason, for she was noi: sure of when it had been. We can be reasonably 
certain, however, that 25 January was not only the day on which Suga 
died in 1911, but alsc the day on which Fumiko had been born, in 
1903. The fact that she was born ‘illegitimate’ has led to confusion 
about when she was born, so much so that one can find in the sources 
any year between 1902 and 1907 given as her year of birth. 40 Her birth 
was not officially recorded until she was eight years old, and the record 
then falsified: she was entered into the Register of Families as the 



Kaneko Fumiko ( 1922-1926 ) 203 


legitimate child of her maternal grandparents, born on 25 January 
1902. But the most reliable information about her date of birth 
came from her parents. In 1925 on different occasions they agreed, 
though they had been separated for about fifteen years, that she had 
been born in a year of the rabbit and was thus 21. 41 Her father 
added that her date of birth was therefore 25 January 1903; and 
1903 was in fact a rabbit-year. The most common date given in the 
sources is probably the one that Fumiko herself gave (January 
1904). Yet, apart from the fact that all this confusion underscores 
her early lack of registration, what is most noteworthy about it is 
that during her interrogations she was fond of taking the opportunity 
to sneer at officialdom about the inaccuracy and thus meaninglessness 
of their records. 

I 


At six I learned 

prematurely 

the sadness of life. 42 

Social discrimination was one of the main themes in Fumiko’s story of 
her life. Concerning the first part of her life, discussed under the title 
of ‘Father’, she indicated that it was due largely to Saeki Fumikazu’s 
selfishness and snobbishness in refusing to marry her mother that she 
came to be treated as a ‘non-person’. ( By the time she was writing her 
memoirs she and her father were completely estranged.) It was still 
common then for women not to be registered as legal wives until 
they had produced a male heir, and if the marital union was never 
made legal, children would usually be registered under the mother’s 
name as illegitimate. But Fumiko was; not so critical of the fact that 
her parents had not been married; it was more that her father’s 
pride had caused her to suffer discrimination as a musekisha (unregis- 
tered person). 

As for her mother, it should first be noted that her real name was 
Kikuno. Fumiko used pseudonyms for family and others discussed 
in her original manuscript. 43 Officially, her name had been recorded 
as ‘Kie’, but she explained in court that she had always been known 
as ‘Kikuno’. Thus, Fumiko was born the eldest child of Kaneko 
Kikuno and Saeki Fumikazu. 44 Her parents had met in Kikuno’s vil- 
lage, Suwa, in the Enzan area of Yamanashi Prefecture. 45 To Kikuno, 
the illiterate daughter of a peasant family, this eldest son of a military 
officer from a samurai family in Hiroshima must indeed have seemed 



204 Life-narratives 

like ‘a young lord’. The couple eloped and settled in Yokohama where 
Fumiko was born two years later. Kikuno testified in 1925 that by the 
time their relationship had become the subject of local gossip, she was 
also afraid that she had conceived a child. Saeki saw it differently, 
testifying that he could not bring himself to register Kikuno as his 
legal wife because their common-law marriage had been founded on 
the ‘cold-blooded lie’ that she was pregnant. 46 

In Fumiko’s eyes it was her father’s selfishness and pride that pre- 
vented him from marrying Kikuno for the sake of his children, and 
to this picture of his character she added other qualities like brutality 
and debauchery. Like Suga, Fumiko painted this unflattering picture 
of her father fully aware of the importance in conventional morality 
and family-state ideology of filial piety, particularly toward the legal 
head of the family. Her irreverence extended from denouncing her 
father as ‘bestial’ in her memoirs to elsewhere dismissing the supreme 
father-figure of the nation, the emperor, as a mere ‘[mental] patient’. It 
was common knowledge that the Taisho emperor suffered from mental 
illness, so referring to him as the ‘byonin’ (invalid, a sick or feeble 
person) was probably a snide reference to this. 47 

Fumiko was happy to paint Fumikazu as a proud and affectionate 
father at first, though she claimed he caused dissension in the family 
when he brought a young woman into the house. It was from this 
time that her father began physically to abuse her mother (and, 
when Fumiko tried to help her, herself). 48 She also remembered 
being taken to see him at a place she later realized must have been a 
brothel, implying that Fumikazu had also been responsible for the 
family’s poverty. He gambled, and was too proud to work in most 
occupations. Kikuno actually testified to her opposition to the pre- 
sence in the house of this young woman, and also spoke of how he 
used to waste his money gambling in the red light district. 49 Later 
again, there was another addition to the family when Kikuno’s 
younger sister, Takano, came to the city for medical treatment. 50 
Fumiko wrote that Takano’s presence created tension in the house 
once more - and Kikuno, her mother, Sehi, and Saeki all backed up 
Fumiko’s story that the two had soon become lovers. But needless 
to say, their assessments of this polygamy differed. For Sehi, Saeki 
Fumikazu was a ‘scoundrel’ who had ‘abducted’ both her daughters; 
he, on the other hand, believed he had been justified in being sexually 
intimate with Takano because he and his wife had not been getting 
along for some time. For Fumiko, the reality of the situation was 
that he was a spoiled, selfish lecher. 51 Grandmother Sehi once came 
to Yokohama to try to take Takano home to Suwa to be married 



Kaneko Fumiko ( 1922-1926) 205 


respectably (rather than being a ‘concubine’), but she was described by 
Fumiko as ‘an ignorant woman from a farm in the country’, and no 
match for Fumikazu, a ‘cunning city person’. One of Fumikazu’s argu- 
ments at the time was that Takano was too frail to be a farmer’s wife, 
so he would arrange a marriage for her in the city. He testified in 1925 
that he actually had tried to do this. 52 

In some senses, the adult Fumiko and her mother looked back over 
their lives and painted a very similar picture of their experiences. 
Certainly, for both, Saeki Fumikazu had been the main villain in the 
piece. Hauled before a judge of whom she must have been in awe, 
Kikuno seldom contradicted her daughter’s story, even when it 
reflected badly on herself. But this is not to say that she was ready to 
defend Fumiko if she felt she had done something ‘wrong’; the fact 
that in some respects the two agreed on certain events in their lives 
does not mean that they always interpreted their shared past or the 
society they lived in similarly. For example, Kikuno told the judge 
that when she believed that Fumiko had been killed in the earthquake 
she thought it for the best because, while she loved her daughter, ‘her 
ideas had become quite twisted’. 53 Still, each told the same story 
about one occasion when Kikuno was badly beaten by Fumikazu for 
‘embarrassing’ him in front of his friends by asking for money for 
food while he was gambling. 54 There were only minor differences in 
the two accounts, and it is unlikely that Fumiko was merely repeating 
what she heard from her mother later about this instance of domestic 
violence or other episodes in her life. The two were separated about 
two years after this incident, and Fumiko saw little of her mother 
after that. 

Fumiko also wrote a poem in which she refers to Fumikazu’s fierce 
temper: 

Sad legacy 

to me from Father: 

my quick-spoken, quick-tempered nature. 55 

No doubt it was also a cynical reference to the one and only ‘inheri- 
tance’ she - who was never legally recognized and even ‘disinherited’ 
as an adult - received from her father. Saeki was asked by the judge 
if he had threatened to disinherit his daughter for destroying the 
name of the family by living with a ‘base Korean’; and he replied 
that it was true. 56 This was intimately connected with what Fumiko 
deemed to be his exaggerated notions of his family’s social superiority. 
He had in his possession the family genealogy which traced his family 
back over a millenium to Fujiwara Fusasaki - the Fujiwara having 



206 Life-narratives 

been court nobles and, in late Heian, imperial regents - was thus 
regarded by him as a sacred treasure. Perhaps this was an added 
reason for Fumiko’s scorn for the imperial family, even explicitly 
the (supposedly unbroken) imperial descent from the gods. It was 
Fumikazu’s habit every morning to line the family up and insist on 
their making a deep obeisance to this Saeki genealogy. Especially 
later, when Fumiko was 16 and briefly reunited with her father 
again, she said he would try to impress upon her how fortunate she 
was to be descended from such an illustrious family. But she had 
never been fortunate enough to be officially registered as such, 
Fumiko said it was painful for her to be forced to venerate her father’s 
ancestors. This pract ce also seemed to her to reflect aspects of his 
character for which she clearly had the deepest contempt: his pride, 
pretentiousness, snobbery and vanity. 57 In the early 1970s Fumiko’s 
biographer, Setouchi Harumi, was shown this genealogy by the wife 
of Takatoshi, Fumiko’s younger brother (Kikuno’s son). Though 
Fumikazu had eventually registered Takano as his wife and Takatoshi 
as his son (in 1916 or 1917), still the genealogy ended with Fumikazu. 
Fumiko wrote in her memoirs that she heard from her aunt, Takano, 
much later that he had never wanted to register Kikuno, which sug- 
gested to Fumiko that the ‘daughter of a peasant’ was not good 
enough for a Saeki. And even if Fumikazu did legally marry her 
younger sister, the fact that neither Takano nor his son appeared in 
the genealogy bears this out. 58 

Fumikazu and Kikuno had lived together for more than eight years 
by the time he left (probably in 1909), surreptitiously, according to 
both Fumiko and Kikuno. Kikuno testified that he had told her he 
was going to visit the oolice chief in Shizuoka in the hope of obtaining 
a position as a policeman. She also said she went about looking for 
him until she discovered where he and Takano were hiding. 59 But it 
was before this time that Fumiko had begun to feel the effects of 
being unregistered. Of that time, she wrote: 

I wanted to go to school with my two friends, but I could not. I 

wanted to be able to read books and write characters, but Father 

and Mother did rot teach me even one letter! Father did not 

care, and Mother was illiterate. 60 

But her father came home one day with the news that he had found a 
school for her. It was a sorry sort of school in one room of a house in a 
slum area, but Fumiko was ecstatic to be allowed to attend. Her joy 
was short-lived, however, because even the customary small gift for 
the teacher (in lieu of payment) was beyond the family’s means, so 



Kantko Fumiko ( 1922-1926 ) 207 


she soon stopped attending. According to Fumiko’s account, both her 
unregistered status and their poverty continued to interfere with her 
schooling. Kikuno had kept silent, it seems, about not being Fumi- 
kazu’s registered wife, but once her child began to pester her about 
going to school, she wanted to register her as a Kaneko. Fumikazu 
would not allow it, however, and berated Kikuno: ‘You fool! 
Report her as illegitimate? As illegitimate she’d never be able to 
hold up her head in life!’ 61 

The next instalment of the life that Fumiko presented was entitled 
‘Mother’. When Fumikazu disappeared not long after the birth of 
their second child, Takatoshi, Kikuno was apparently forced to feed 
herself and the children by pawning what little personal property 
they had. Fumiko wrote that from her father there was no word (for 
several weeks), much less financial assistance. Fumikazu admitted in 
1925 that he had sent the family no mon ey while he was away, but pro- 
tested that he had not ‘abandoned’ them and gone into hiding. His 
story was a little different from that told by Fumiko and Kikuno. 
He had not sent them money, he sa.id, because three weeks later 
when he returned with Takano, Kikuno was already living with 
another man. He and Takano therefore returned to Hamamatsu in 
Shizuoka after a few days. 62 Kikuno had in fact allowed a man to 
move in with them to help out financially, but it seems that Fumiko 
took an instant dislike to him and he returned the sentiment, finding 
ever more inventive ways of dealing with this ‘cheeky’ child. The 
judge asked Kikuno whether the man Fumiko named ‘Nakamura’ 
had once gagged and bound Fumiko and left her dangling from a 
tree at a river’s edge after she had gone out, and Kikuno’s response 
was revealing: ‘Since it was after I’d left, I don’t know, but there 
was a river beside the house we lived in then . . ,’ 63 

Fumiko recalled overhearing not long after that her father had sent 
for the infant, Takatoshi. Her sadness at losing her brother abated a 
little, however, when she found that she would be going to school 
again. Because of Kikuno’s persistence a school principal in the area 
had finally agreed to let her attend. This was a real school, unlike 
the previous one her father had sent her to: the ‘school for social out- 
castes’. 64 But here she was struck by the contrast between her circum- 
stances and that of the other students, many of whom had servants. 
Even after they moved house again and Kikuno had to fight to get 
her into another school with many more poor children, moreover, 
her ‘outcaste’ status trailed her. Again she remembered being either 
ignored or treated cruelly by the staff, recounting how once she was 
accused by the headmaster of stealing her monthly tuition fees out 



208 Life-narratives 

of the envelope she had handed to the teacher. Kikuno, however, 
blamed the theft on Nakamura both according to Fumiko and her 
own testimony. 65 

In this section Fumiko continued her narrative about the suffering 
her father had caused her, and also remarked on her mother’s failings. 
Kikuno was a very ‘dependent’ sort of woman who could not survive 
without someone to rely on. 66 She ‘just could not exist without a man’. 
(By this point in he:' narrative, she and her mother had left Naka- 
mura.) The child Fumiko came to the conclusion, apparently, that 
men were trouble. The two barely managed to eke out an existence 
while Kikuno was working at a silk mill; but this ‘solitary but intimate’ 
lifestyle was soon ruined for Fumiko by another man named 
Kobayashi. 67 Though Kikuno was sure that they would be a lot 
more comfortable with Kobayashi supporting them, Fumiko had 
argued that he looked like a loafer. She also intimated that time had 
proved her right. Kil uno was asked during her interrogation whether 
she had cohabited with Nakamura and then Kobayashi after Saeki left 
her. She responded that she had, explaining that she had needed help 
to support her daughter. But both men turned out to be ‘idle and use- 
less’, she added. 68 

Fumiko was not nearly as hard on her mother as she was on her 
father. Kikuno she portrayed as merely weak, selfish, and morally 
lax. The judge was interested in a story she told about how one night 
Kikuno was ‘romping about unashamedly on the futon’ with Kobaya- 
shi and sent her small daughter out into the ‘scary’, pitch-dark night on 
an errand to get rid of her; and Kikuno did not deny that this sort of 
thing happened. None the less, Fumiko was more inclined to try to bal- 
ance the negative picture she presented of her mother, even if there was 
one crime for which she had clearly never forgiven her. The destitute 
family had already pawned almost all their ‘commodities’, when one 
day Kikuno took her daughter to an agent who dealt in geisha and 
prostitutes. 69 According to Fumiko, Kikuno claimed that she was 
hoping that through a career as a geisha, her child would have a 
chance to ‘better herself’. It was only when she discovered that 
Fumiko would be sen ; to a place named Mishima (above the Izu Penin- 
sula) that Kikuno backed out of the deal, lamenting that it was too far 
away. In narrating th s story about almost being sold as a ‘prostitute’, 
Fumiko’s moral (-political) indignation seemed to be connected with 
being treated as a ‘commodity’ to be sold into a ‘slave trade’. She 
suggested that that the price offered Kikuno had simply not been 
high enough. But perhaps Kikuno did not like the idea of Mishima 



Kaneko Fumiko ( 1922-1926 ) 209 

for another reason. Mishima is an onsen (hot springs resort) and, as 
Liza Dalby observes: 

The women of such resorts generally go by the name onsen geisha, a 
term with a derogatory ring and with overtones of sex for hire as 
well as low standards of artistic skill. . . . these geisha suffer a tarn- 
ished image in the popular imagination. . . . Onsen geisha is usually 
taken as a euphemism for prostitute 70 

If Kikuno hoped that her daughter would become a geisha, she might 
not have seen Mishima as the sort of place for her to ‘better herself’. 
Her expectation that Fumiko would be sent to a closer place suggests 
Tokyo, and geisha in Kyoto or Tokyo had the best reputations for 
refinement and artistry. She admitted that she had once tried to sell 
her daughter as a geisha, though she did not explain why she subse- 
quently changed her mind. 71 

To avoid their creditors Kikuno, Kobayashi and Fumiko made their 
escape late one night. They found temp orary lodgings on the outskirts 
of Yokohama in a cheap boarding house. 72 Fumiko’s clearest memory 
of this period was of hunger and searching for food amongst garbage 
in the street, yet, to her impatience, Kikuno only bemoaned the ‘pre- 
dicament’ (a pregnancy) that made it impossible for her to leave 
Kobayashi. Fumiko said she only realized much later that her 
mother had been pregnant then because she had asked Fumiko’s play- 
mates if they knew the whereabouts of a Hdzuki shrub (Winter Cherry, 
botanical name Physalis Alkekengi). Kikuno then took a piece of root 
home with her concealed in her sleeve, because it was believed to be an 
abortifacient. This suggestion of an attempted abortion was evidently 
part Fumiko’s critique of her mother’s selfishness in always putting her 
own needs before her children’s. In her eyes Kikuno was ultimately 
guilty of abandoning all three of her children. After a short stay in 
Kobayashi’s home village deep in the mountains of Northern Yama- 
nashi Prefecture, Kikuno returned home to her family in Suwa with 
Fumiko, leaving the newborn baby named Haruko behind with its 
father. Most of Kobayashi’s family had been happy about the birth 
of his first child, so it was decided that Kikuno and Fumiko could 
go so long as the baby remained in the village. 73 But Fumiko remem- 
bered being worried that something might happen to her baby sister, 
having implied that the possibility of infanticide had been raised. 74 
She did not go so far as to represent her mother as completely heart- 
less, however, noting that she was sobbing and reluctant to leave 
Haruko without feeding her one more time. But she wrote that she 
would never forget the wailing of her ‘abandoned’ little sister; and 



210 Life-narratives 

neither Fumiko nor Kikuno (as she said in court) ever heard whether 
the baby had survived, 75 

The didactic intent of Fumiko’s memoirs is very clear in connection 
with her emphasis 01 the primitive natural existence in Kobayashi’s 
mountain hamlet. Like Kropotkin, she basically extolled the virtues 
of mutual aid, advocated that farmers should be able to wear their 
own silk, and opposed the capitalist money economy. She waxed 
lyrical about the village’s primitive barter economy. 76 The harsh but 
allegedly wholesome mountain existence was even a good influence 
on Kobayashi who, to Fumiko’s amazement, worked, making charcoal 
to sell or barter. She also noted that the diet there was humble but 
healthy (better, she said, than prison food!). In general Fumiko idea- 
lized this healthy, natural existence, yet it was in connection with 
school that she raised one negative point about the village. Because 
her mother had not had enough charcoal to exchange for the custom- 
ary present of sake for the teacher, Fumiko did not get her school 
certificate. Here even school certificates (and a prize for scholastic 
achievement in Fumiko’s case) were ‘bought’, she seemed to be saying, 
perhaps suggesting that corruption could still exist even without 
money. 77 

The next event in this supposed child’s-eye view of life - that is, the 
adult Fumiko’s less than reverent account of parental character and 
authority - was about Kikuno’s ‘desertion’ of her firstborn daughter. 
When they arrived in Suwa, Kikuno was sent by her family to a silk 
mill where she had worked as a girl. 78 One night Fumiko learned to 
her dismay that a marriage had been arranged for her mother. 
Kikuno would first go alone to join the household and return for 
Fumiko later, if it proved acceptable to her new husband. At this 
point Fumiko launched into a bitter attack on the parents of the 
world. She wrote thal she felt like screaming a ‘curse’ at them because 
they loved and then discarded their children at their convenience. 79 
Fumiko sometimes addressed her reader/s directly in a self-conscious 
way. Here she apologized to the reader for her excess of emotion, 
but insisted that her words well expressed the despair she felt at that 
time. She was not prepared to forgive this desertion, whatever exten- 
uating circumstances there might have been. One of Kikuno’s interro- 
gations, however, suggests something about the pressures that she 
must have been under. She had caused her parents to ‘lose face’, she 
said, and indicated that it was due to family pressure then that 
she first went to work in a silk mill (where her health soon deterio- 
rated) and then married again. When the judge asked her to comment 
on how ‘Fumiko said that her mother only cared about herself and 



Kaneko Fumiko (1922-1926) 211 


thus married into other families any number of times’, she replied: 
‘I wasn’t concerned about myself at all. It was unthinkable that I 
could stay at home, defy my parents and brother, and not marry.’ 80 
We would not expect them to interpret the episode in the same way, 
perhaps, but Fumiko was not always so unsympathetic toward her 
mother. 

Fumiko resumed her studies once again in Suwa, and despite the 
usual discrimination, recalled that school was her ‘only joy’ because 
it filled the void left by her mother’s departure. Although Kikuno 
did come to collect her not long after, the child did not like her 
mother’s new husband, so soon demanded to return to Suwa. How- 
ever, Kikuno told the judge that Fumiko was treated as a ‘nuisance’ 
by her new husband so she sent her home. 81 It was almost winter 
that same year, 1912, when her paternal grandmother, Saeki-I washita 
Mutsu, came to visit. Fumiko was surprised to learn that she was to 
be taken to Korea to be raised by her father’s childless sister and 
her husband, and even become their legal heir. Mutsu had joined 
her daughter, Kameko, when she married Iwashita, a government offi- 
cial who had secured a position in Korea supervising the laying of rail- 
way tracks (probably the Seoul-Pusan line). It must have been at the 
end of 1912 that Fumiko was taken there because she was entered into 
the Kaneko Register on 14 October 19 12. 82 Any reservations she had 
first had about the plan were swept away by the beautiful clothes 
Mutsu had brought for her, by the prospect of being loved and 
wanted, and by the promise of having a good education. The one 
hitch in the plan - her lack of legal status - was removed when her 
maternal grandparents agreed to register her as their own youngest 
daughter. Fumiko explained that it was because her paternal grand- 
mother insisted that a family with the social standing of the Iwashitas 
could not adopt an unregistered or illegitimate child that it was 
decided to register her first as the legitimate child of her maternal 
grandparents. Fumiko’s mother and father both said in their testimo- 
nies that the family in Korea had wanted Fumiko as their child, and 
this concern with her prior registration as legitimate suggests that 
the family in Korea did intend initially to adopt her as their legal 
heir. According to Fumiko’s account, however, what she became 
there was the maid. 

The section of Fumiko’s memoirs where she wrote about Korea is a 
long and detailed condemnation of her paternal relatives, which 
reflects the fact that she wanted to impress upon her reader/s how 
important an influence this period of over six years in colonized 
Korea had been on her political development. A central theme in 



2 1 2 Life-narratives 

this part of her life-story was how the wealthy and powerful cruelly 
mistreated perceived ‘inferiors’. The character sketch she gave of her 
colonist family - largely through casting in a lurid light the way 
they had brutalized both her and Koreans - was clearly meant to 
leave her audience in no doubt about the fact that despite all the ideo- 
logical rhetoric in the papers, Japanese actions in Korea did not reflect 
much ‘brotherly’ love. Her portrait of life in Korea was the other 
side of the coin of t er depiction of life in Taisho Japan: for while 
this country was on the receiving end of imperialist paternalism, it 
was no more harmonious a ‘family’ than Japan. 

Fumiko began her account of what life was like for her in Korea by 
noting that once at the Iwashita home there was no sign of the books, 
fine clothes and toys that had been promised her. However, her un- 
certainty about her position in the household was removed not long 
after she arrived. One day a lady visited, exclaiming when she saw 
Fumiko, ‘My, what a sweet child!’ But this was met by a cold look 
from the grandmother, Mutsu, accompanied by the words: 

Oh, she’s just the child of a slight acquaintance. She hasn’t learned 
any manners and knows nothing but coarse language because she’s 
the child of a terrible pauper. It’s all a real embarrassment to us, 
but we felt so sorry for her, you know, that we just had to take 
her in. 83 

Then Mutsu had whispered menacingly to Fumiko that she had better 
not tell anyone who she really was because officially she and her pater- 
nal relatives were nov' ‘strangers’. If the truth became known that the 
Register entry on her birth was a lie, both the child and her maternal 
family would end up ‘ Saving to wear red kimono’ (go to prison)! It was 
only many years later when she looked back over her life in Korea that 
Fumiko thought she understood the reasons for her subsequent demo- 
tion to family ‘maid’. Her aunt and grandmother seemed to believe her 
unsuited to the position of family heir because she had been perma- 
nently ‘distorted’ by being raised in adversity. She lacked the refine- 
ment required of a daughter of the Iwashita family, and in that role 
would surely disgrace the family name. They had an elevated social 
position to maintain. Fumiko said her uncle had taken up farming 
between Seoul and Pusan. His land included fields tenanted by 
Koreans and he earned income also through usury: high-interest 
loans to Koreans. (In one article in 1922, she had also decried the 
exploitation of Koreans by Japanese usurers.) The area they lived in 
was divided into social and administrative communities of Japanese 
and Koreans. In th; ruling clique were landed gentry, usurers, 



Kaneko Fumiko ( 1922-1926) 213 

Japanese government officials, military police officers, the school- 
teacher etc. 84 

Fumiko’s narrative about her life in Korea was one long indictment 
of the cruelty, pride, selfishness, vanity, snobbery, hypocrisy and 
meanness of her grandmother and aunt. She mentioned her uncle 
only in passing after describing him early in the piece as ‘a gentle 
man of few words’ who, presumably, neither contributed to nor 
could prevent the Iwashita house from becoming a ‘hell’ for Fumiko. 
Specifically, it 

scolded and tormented me, robbed me of every bit of freedom and 
independence, whittled away my good points from the edges, 
stunted my growth, and left me twisted, distorted and warped. 85 

Fumiko did not mince words about the Iwashita house, at least in her 
memoirs. When questioned about Fumiko’s life in Korea, both her 
mother and father replied that they knew nothing about it. (Fumiko 
wrote that she told them very little.) Kikuno remarked that her char- 
acter had changed for the worse by her return, but that she learned 
nothing from her daughter about what had happened to her in 
Korea. When Fumikazu was asked whether Fumiko had been mis- 
treated in Korea, he observed that his mother was an ‘unusually 
severe person’. Fumiko might have been ‘disciplined harshly’ by her, 
he added, recalling that he had felt after her return that it would 
have been better for her sake not to have been sent there. He must 
have played some part in the ‘adoption’, since the family in Korea 
would have had no other way of know ing of Fumiko’s existence and 
location. 86 

Mutsu and Kameko were said to have ‘tormented’ Fumiko by con- 
stantly harping on two aspects of her background - poverty and her 
lack of registration - drumming it into her that if not for the kindness 
of her paternal relatives, she would still be a ‘non-person’. 

I cannot know how much my self-confidence was wounded by 
that term which was always used: unregistered person. I can’t 
forget it . . . 

But was being an unregistered person my crime? I did not under- 
stand that I was unregistered. That was something only my father 
and mother understood, and should have taken responsibility for. 
Yet schools closed their gates to me. Strangers despised me. Even 
my blood-grandmother held me in contempt and menaced me 
because of it. 



214 Life-narratives 

I knew nothing. All I knew was that I’d been bom and was alive. 

Yes, I knew for sare I was alive. However much my grandmother 

said I hadn’t ever been born, I had been bom and I was alive. 87 

Two aspects of Fumiko’s attitude toward having been unregistered are 
quite clear. Firstly, she was bitter over being blamed and punished for 
something not her responsibility. Secondly, her painful memories of 
having been an unregistered child were largely due to her being treated 
as if she did not exist (she had had no official existence, so had not 
been ‘born’). There is no doubt about this because in one interrogation 
she also said that the law ‘denies real, natural existence’, and was 
therefore a lie. 88 Hence she was excluded from games at school, for 
example, because not a ‘real’ student. We can see how being treated 
as a nonentity might have appeared to the mature Fumiko, a deter- 
mined egoist, to be the ultimate social crime against an individual. 

Fumiko was apparently allowed little freedom from the time she 
arrived in Korea. Playing with local children was denied her since 
they were ‘vulgar paupers’, but games at school were also out of the 
question because considered too hard on her clothes. She said she 
was once very embarrassed when she was forced to admit that she 
was not allowed to work on the school vegetable plot because her 
grandmother considered it too rough on her clothes. The teacher 
rounded on her with the sarcastic remark that everyone could 
indeed see how splendidly she was dressed: ‘just like a little princess’. 89 
Here Fumiko launched a savage attack on parents who refused to let 
their children play freely just to save themselves work and keep up 
appearances. If the;' were worried about their children’s getting 
dirty, it would be better to dress them in old clothes rather than ‘rob- 
bing them of their freedom and individuality’. If children developed 
their individual talents naturally, society would be the better for it. 
This was another point at which Fumiko counterposed ‘nature’ to 
human society, something she emphasized also in connection with 
her intention to kill herself when she was no more than 12. But 
having decided that avenging herself on humanity was a more fitting 
goal, Fumiko returned home, she said, and from that day developed 
a ‘fierce thirst for knowledge’ - which was not easy to quench in a 
household where all but school textbooks were denied her. It is clear 
that for Fumiko knowledge was a means to power, yet nothing 
came of Mutsu’s original promise to send her to high school, let 
alone a ladies’ college in Tokyo. 

A point Fumiko emphasized was that Koreans were amongst the 
few people there who showed her any kindness. One Korean discussed 



Kaneko Fumiko ( 1922-1926 ) 215 

was ‘Ko’, the Iwashitas’ manservant. ‘Ko’ she described as an honest 
and hard worker, who was very poor because underpaid and terribly 
exploited by the Iwashitas; while also having to suffer various cruel 
indignities at their hands. 90 In the context of the formation of her 
antipathy toward those with wealth and power, she mentioned in a 
later section how she came to empathize with ‘Ko’ and others who 
like herself were ‘oppressed, tormented and exploited’. 

The underlying theme throughout Fumiko’s account of her experi- 
ence in the Iwashita household was that it was this period in her life 
that had done the most to leave her ‘stunted and warped’. Here she 
had been denied affection, brutalized, deprived of her freedom, and 
robbed of the opportunity to develop her natural potential. 91 She 
related how she was even forced to become dishonest in order to 
avoid punishment for imaginary crimes. Fumiko was afraid that her 
account of her life in Korea might seem exaggerated and unconvin- 
cing. She imagined that readers might think that Mutsu could not 
have been that bad, that she was lying because her character was 
‘warped’. She was not lying, she insisted, though she was indeed 
‘warped’ - and she wanted her readers to understand how she got 
that way. 

Fortunately, early in 1919 when Fumiko had just turned 16, her 
relatives decided that they should send her home because she had fin- 
ished her education and would soon tie expected to marry. This she 
interpreted to mean that they did not want to arrange a marriage 
for her themselves because of the expense. Arriving in Yamanashi 
soon after, Fumiko was relieved when, without exception, the family 
welcomed her. Kikuno was married again, but returned for a visit 
when she was told of Fumiko’s arrival. At this point in her story 
Fumiko was relatively sympathetic about her mother’s situation, 
recognizing that Kikuno’s family allowed her little control over her 
own life. She explained that it was not Kikuno’s fault that her many 
marriages did not work out, that she could not find a good man for 
a husband. What else could a woman with a ‘past’ expect? That day 
Kikuno greeted and fussed over her daughter happily until suddenly 
she noticed the condition of her hands; the signs of frostbite and 
hard work. But Fumiko made a point of writing here that she had 
been evasive about how badly she had been treated in Korea, for she 
did not like speaking ill of people. Here and elsewhere she seemed con- 
cerned that her motives for writing her autobiography might be mis- 
read: it was no mere vengeful diatribe against family and society, 
but rather a consistent and reasoned social critique. 



216 Life-narratives 

Fumiko acknowledged that she had been gratified by her mother’s 
resentment about the Iwashita’s broken promises and concern for 
her, but said she had quickly tired of Kikuno’s incessant complaints 
about her current marriage. She soon began to take every opportunity 
to escape to the nearby Zen temple of one of her maternal uncles, 
Motoei; and in this peaceful environment she began to feel restored. 
Then one day the main villain of this part of her memoirs, her 
father again, came to visit. She recalled thinking his demonstrations 
of affection for her absurd, and being ‘contemptuous’ of him because 
he believed he still had some paternal authority over her. When he and 
Motoei retired to talk privately about a matter concerning her, she had 
felt rather anxious. Fumikazu gave her no explanation but that night 
she agreed to his request that she go to live with him, Takano and 
Takatoshi in Hamamatsu. He wanted to make amends for the past, 
he insisted; and she was impatient to leave the village. 

Fumiko soon discovered another attempt to ‘sell’ her like a mere 
‘object’, she wrote, this time by her father. He had promised her in 
marriage to her uncle, Motoei. 92 When Fumikazu was questioned in 
court in 1925 about this engagement, he did not deny his part in arran- 
ging it. According to Fumiko’s memoirs and second court testimony, 
everyone but Motoei and Fumikazu opposed the idea. 93 Marriages 
between close relatives were still common in prewar villages, often 
between first cousins or uncles and nieces. In Ella Lury Wiswell’s 
and Robert Smith’s study of Suye village in the 1930s, however, 
villagers were sometimes disapproving of this, voicing the opinion 
that cousin marriages either failed or led to miscarriages or abnormal 
children. 94 

Fumiko’s whole account of the plans to marry her to her uncle sug- 
gests a moral opposition to it tantamount to revulsion. She was dis- 
gusted because to add to the ‘profanity’ of trying to wed uncle and 
niece, it was clear to her that her father’s motives were mercenary. 
Fumiko gave the same account of her father’s motives - the wealth 
of the temple - as her grandmother. Sehi testified that she had opposed 
the plan. Fumikazu justified his actions to the judge by insisting that 
there had been no alternative to the plan because Fumiko and 
Motoei had already been lovers. His account differed from Fumiko’s 
and Sehi’s in various respects. According to Fumiko, it was Fumikaza 
who had initiated the discussion about marrying her to Motoei, and 
not a case of his hav ng asked for her hand (Motoei himself was not 
called as a witness because he had already died of illness by then). 95 
Motoei was no better than her father, according to Fumiko, for his 
motives were bestial; and the ‘dirty beast’ was actually a priest! She 



Kaneko Fumiko ( 1922-1926) 217 


knew that he was on the look-out for a pure young virgin to ‘wed’; he 
had told her as much himself. (Presumably, this was to be a common- 
law marriage since Motoei was a Zen priest.) But while she was fond of 
Motoei, her father’s claim that she was in love with him was a ridicu- 
lous attempt to twist the truth in order to justify his own greed. 

One interesting thing about Fumiko’s construction of life in both 
her memoirs and testimonies is that, while one might not go so far 
as to describe her as a feminist, much of what she had to say revealed 
a decidedly critical view of discrimination against women and gen- 
dered expectations of them. This was in a range of areas including edu- 
cation, sexuality, arranged marriage, and women’s general lack of 
independence. One reason she gave for the increasing tension between 
herself and her father at this time was that her hopes of getting a real 
education were disappointed. The only school acceptable to her father 
was a girls’ school where she was to learn needlework in preparation 
for her marriage. Even in more formal women’s colleges then, 
sewing and other domestic ‘sciences’ made up the largest part of the 
curriculum. So Fumiko said she hated this school and neglected her 
‘studies’. 

Though Fumiko recalled having an ally in Takano and also being 
fond of her brother, it appears that life in Hamamatsu became more 
and more frustrating for her. This, for example, was when she had 
to put up with the daily worship of the Saeki genealogy. When she 
stopped attending the ‘stupid’ needlework school, Fumikazu was 
furious and they fought, so she was sent back to Suwa again. 96 
There she hit upon a plan to gain entrance to a prefectural high 
school where tuition was free, and become a teacher. Motoei, she 
wrote, had agreed to be her guarantor, so she threw herself into study- 
ing for the entrance exams, only to have him refuse to sign her appli- 
cation forms. Her uncle then went to ask Sehi to take Fumiko back to 
Hamamatsu, and it was clear to the latter that she was in some sort of 
trouble. There her father flew into a rage, beating and kicking her 
savagely, calling her a ‘whore’, at which point she realized that her 
romance with a young student in the village, ‘Segawa’ (real name 
unknown), had been discovered. 

According to Fumiko, it was because Motoei assumed that she was 
no longer a virgin that he now retracted his promise to marry her, 
though the fact that she was legally registered as his younger sister 
might have had something to do with it. At this point in her story, 
Fumiko again inveighed against the hypocrisy of both her father 
and uncle for damning her as a ‘whore' when she had not done a frac- 
tion of what they were guilty of. One had wanted her as a ‘plaything’. 



218 Life-narratives 

while the other had seen her as a ‘tool’ to be used for mercenary ends. 
In her second trial testimony, too, she mentioned that her father had 
seen her as mere ‘property’ and tried to sell her, even demanding ‘pay- 
ment’ from Motoei for taking her virginity. 97 (It was not actually made 
clear in Fumiko’s memoirs or testimonies that Motoei had not, but the 
general sense of her accounts seems to be that he had wanted her while 
she was still a virgin. ) 

This section of Fumiko’s memoirs about her uncle and her sweet- 
heart also followed an account of a sexual assault by an unknown 
man. (She said she had thought at first that he was a relative.) She 
was not explicit about what happened, writing only that she shook 
off this ‘devil’ and escaped ‘in a daze like a wounded beast’. 98 She 
admitted to her readers that she had never confided in anyone about 
this, but could now because she would probably not live much 
longer and there was no longer any reason to hide it. It was, moreover, 
important to her that she record everything that had ‘had a great influ- 
ence on her life, ideas and character’. Perhaps in writing about this 
(attempted?) rape she was revealing one more way in which she had 
been ‘distorted’. Like Suga, Fumiko left the reader to read between 
the lines and appeared to be concerned that she, the victim, might 
be held responsible. She seemed to be trying to avoid censure by her 
reader/s by stressing :hat she had at first mistaken the identity of the 
man, that she was unwell at the time, and that she was still then inno- 
cent of the ways of the world. 

Relations between mmiko and her father were impossible, she said, 
after she upset his plans to marry her to Motoei. From that time they 
were like ‘enemies’. He would not permit her to study to become a 
teacher, but was overjoyed when his son passed the entrance exams 
for the prefectural middle-high school. Fumiko described her brother 
as neither very good at his school-work nor particularly ambitious. 
None the less, his father insisted that the (now legal) son of a Saeki 
had to do law at Tokyo Imperial University and thus attain a govern- 
ment post, perhaps even become prime minister. There is an under- 
current in her account that suggests that she resented Takatoshi’s 
being pushed towarc a future he was not suited for and did not 
want, while she was more intelligent yet not permitted to attend 
even high school. 99 It was over her younger brother, apparently, 
that Fumiko and her father had the row that led to her departure 
for Tokyo, because she had been openly scornful about his meanness 
in buying a cheap school-bag for Takatoshi and pretending it had been 
expensive. While beaming her, Saeki not only railed at her for being 
‘unfilial’, a ‘trouble-maker’ and, more importantly, a ‘bad influence’ 



Kaneko Fumiko ( 1922-1926) 219 

on her brother; like his mother in Korea, he was about to evict her 
from his house too. 

Up to this point Fumiko’s autobiography largely denounced famil- 
ial and social abuse. Her severest criticisms were most often of men, 
and of the paternal side of the family which, of course, included her 
grandmother and aunt. (Her maternal uncle, Motoei, she was rather 
ambivalent about, despite the above description of him.) Now she 
turned her attention to her days in Tokyo as a self-supporting student, 
and thus to more of those who abused their positions of power to 
exploit ‘toilers’ like herself or treat her like a mere ‘plaything’. Here 
in the metropolis Fumiko saw how the strong really did eat the 
weak; how she had to fight to survive She had set off for Tokyo in 
the spring of 1920 at the age of 17 excited and full of hope. Now 
she could finally reclaim her own life. Tokyo was sure to be a ‘paradise 
on earth’, for here she would find what she had long dreamt of: 
independence. 100 She said her bitter past now became an inspiration 
to her, because her contempt for her family’s ideas and lifestyle was 
what had led her to strike out on her own in search of something 
better. 

Then, however, Fumiko arrived on the doorstep of the man she only 
called ‘great-uncle’ in her memoirs, Kaneko-Kubota Kametaro. She 
wrote that her father had not cared about how she would fare in 
Tokyo and gave her nothing, and also said that her great-uncle had 
had no warning of her arrival. Kubota, however, testified that Saeki 
had written to him asking him to lock after her. 101 It is clear that 
Kametaro took the task seriously because he also lectured Fumiko 
about giving up the idea of an education. He said in his testimony 
that he had pressured her to do something more suitable for a girl 
and more profitable: it would be better if she learned to use one of 
the sewing machines in his house, so she could then marry a respect- 
able merchant. She, however, had other ideas. She had a little trouble 
convincing a man named Furihata (called ‘Shirahata’ by Fumiko) to 
take on a newspaper-girl: she was, after all, more like a boy than a 
girl; being ‘ tomboy ish’ meant that she would be able to work hard 
and not get up to any ‘mischief’ with the men. Furihata remarked 
on her masculine character, gait, speech and general behaviour, re- 
calling during his testimony that she used to loll about in the company 
of the boys, reading nonchalantly. 102 She moved into the newsagency, 
and asked for an advance on her wages so she could enrol at two 
private schools to study mathematics and English. Her first object 
was to sit the exam for a teacher’s licence, but she was also interested 
in becoming a doctor of medicine. There were few girls at these 



220 Life-narratives 


schools, especially in mathematics classes, and this suited her well. At 
girls’ schools, she complained, academic standards were low and one 
was liable to be caught up in ‘annoying competition’ regarding what 
one wore. 103 

After attending one school in the morning and the other in the after- 
noon, Fumiko apparently worked from four until twelve at night, sell- 
ing papers. She did r ot have any time to study, and it was tiring and 
tedious work, as she indicated also in two of her poems: 

Once I even 

sold the evening news, 

propped up 

against Sanmai Bridge 

in Uenoyama. 

Dozing, 

dozing, yet still ringing 
my bell; 

how wretched I was 
five years ago. 104 

Nor did she earn much. She came to see that her employers exploited 
their workers (and she was expected to help out with housework and 
childcare too). But what seems to have convinced her that she should 
leave was that this household was just as bad as her own family. What 
she meant by this was that, like her father, this man was not content 
with one woman. Furihata admitted that he was still supporting his 
former wife and children, that his current wife had once been his ‘con- 
cubine’, and that she was causing trouble over his current mistress. 105 
What Fumiko seemed to find particularly immoral about Furihata 
was that she and the other workers were being mercilessly exploited 
to support his decade nt style of life. 

Yet the newsagency job had held one attraction for Fumiko: the 
vibrant street culture on the bridge from which she sold newspapers. 
Soapbox orators came once a week. Firstly, there was the Salvation 
Army singing and beating their tambourines; then an opposition 
group, the ‘Buddhist Salvation Army’, preaching and singing; and 
finally also some socialists with posters and pamphlets. 106 Fumiko 
explicitly said in one of her testimonies that it was the Salvation 
Army that most attracted her at first. 107 Still, it was from that time 
that she also began to mix a little with socialists. Her employer testified 
that she must have been influenced by socialism then because she 



Kaneko Fumiko ( 1922-1926) 221 


became friendly with a man who published and sold books about it. 
This same man had once worked at the newsagency but was dismissed 
because of his socialist activities. 108 

When Fumiko decided to leave the newsagency, she had nowhere to 
go and no money. In fact Furihata claimed that she owed him quite a 
sum. In desperation she had already a ppealed to a socialist friend to 
help her repay her debt, but he refused so she went to seek out friends 
in the Salvation Army, and her short-lived spiritual ‘conversion’ fol- 
lowed, as did her brief romance with Saito Otomatsu (‘Ito’). Mean- 
while, she had assumed that Furihata had simply written olf her 
‘debt’, and it was not until some time later that she discovered that 
he had visited her great-uncle’s house and Kubota had felt duty- 
bound to pay the money. Furihata explained to the judge that he had 
only employed her because her great-uncle was her guarantor. He 
also said that she had ‘wilfully’ left when he threatened to tell her 
uncle about her socialist connections. 109 (Even if true, Furihata was 
obviously at pains to distance himself from socialism before the judge.) 

With Saito’s help Fumiko became a street-stall vendor and found a 
room. Selling packets of soap-powder did not earn her enough for 
food and board, much less school expenses, so she stopped attending 
maths classes and pawned some schoo -books. Then in the autumn of 
1920 with the help of Salvation Army Corps Leader, ‘Akihara’, a 
woman whose real name was Motoki, she found a job as a live-in 
maid with a family (probably Christian) that had a sugar shop. The 
work was very hard, and she could neither attend school nor find 
time to study. Moreover, there were domestic tensions (immorality) 
in that house too, so before long she wrote to a school-friend named 
Hori (‘Kawada’ in her memoirs) of her depressing circumstances, 
and was gratified when she visited and pointed out that her socialist 
brother (Hori Kiyotoshi) was opening a printing shop: there Fumiko 
might be able both to work and continue with her studies. By this 
time Fumiko also wanted to separate herself from the Christian com- 
pany she had been keeping, she said, but felt ungrateful to Saito and 
Motoki. This was before Saito decided that she was a threat to his 
‘purity’. 110 For Fumiko, Christianity was a deception, even if people 
like Saito and Motoki really believed in it; for her, however, it was 
still a lie. The discussion at this point of her disillusionment with 
Christianity was the first part of a continuing theme in the latter 
part of her memoirs, for first it was Christianity that promised all 
and delivered little and then ‘socialism’. One has to keep in mind 
that what Fumiko was doing when writing her memoirs was explain- 
ing how the world had produced a nihilist like her. By 1922 she had 



222 Life-narratives 


come to believe that nihilism was the ultimate political doctrine 
because it was so much more the negation of state and society than 
even socialism (including anarchism). 

When Fumiko finally left the sugar merchants’ household, she felt 
‘liberated’. It was the- hardest work she had experienced so far. Yet 
when she opened her pay packet on the way to Hori’s house, she 
was appalled to find that these ‘selfish, arrogant and unreasonable’ 
people who lived in luxury had paid her a pittance. Here she returned 
to the theme of the meanness of the rich. She explained that the grand- 
father kept a concubine, gambled and indulged himself with entertain- 
ment by geisha; his wife took more than two hours to dress up in her 
finery; and the whole family slept in, having talked far into the night 
stuffing themselves w th delicacies prepared by the maids, who were 
seldom allowed to sleep for more than five hours. In the somewhat 
defensive testimony of the young master of the shop about his father’s 
‘indulgences’, which coincided with Fumiko’s story, he even admitted 
that she had been underpaid by his mother. 111 

Fumiko remarked once in court that after this experience she ‘free- 
loaded off a few activists’, the Horis first presumably, though she said 
in one interrogation that she worked there doing typesetting. 112 She 
did not go into any detail in her memoirs about this brief period of 
staying with socialists from January 1921, but after her experience at 
the sugar shop she must have looked forward to congenial company. 
This she suggested in her third interrogation, where she pointed out 
that then she had wanted to put socialist theory into practice, but it 
was not possible wi h people like Hori Kiyotoshi and Kutsumi 
Fusako (referred to as ‘Kuno’), who were socialists in name only. 
Fumiko went into detail in one interrogation about the hypocrisy of 
Hori the socialist printer who had a (country geisha) common-law 
wife and illegitimate child, but kept it secret so as not to harm his 
career. She also spoke more than once of Kutsumi, a well-known 
socialist then who, according to Fumiko, neglected her own children 
in order to fly about seeking publicity and glory, and was also selfish 
and materialistic. 113 Fumiko, the ‘amoralist egoist’, had a strict 
sense of moral behaviour for socialists, especially when it concerned 
children. 114 

Once she returned to her great-uncle’s not long after, Fumiko pro- 
mised to help out with the housework so she could resume her studies. 
She did not have enough money to buy books, but at least a socialist 
friend helped her political education along by supplying her with 
pamphlets and union bulletins, through which she was ‘gradually 
able to grasp the thinking and spirit of socialism’. This friend she 



Kancko Fumiko ( 1922-1926 ) 223 


called ‘Ono’ was an anarchist and/or syndicalist printer, a member of 
the Shin’yukai. This is an example of Fumiko’s often vague use of the 
term ‘socialist’ to refer to anyone on the Left. The picture is obscured 
even more when at various points later in her memoirs she spoke of 
rejecting ‘socialism’. Here the style of her critique was plainly anarchis- 
tic, so she may have been criticizing only state, not libertarian, social- 
ism. In any event, she said that at that time ‘socialism’ had ‘suddenly 
ignited the fire of sympathy and rebellion that until that point had only 
been smouldering in my heart’. Even more now she empathized with 
those in circumstances like her own, people who were exploited by 
the wealthy and powerful. But she suggested that even after this ‘igni- 
tion’ her spirt of rebellion was vague: s he was as yet ‘powerless’, lack- 
ing in direction, just a ‘discontented, disaffected child full to the brim 
with rebellion’. Still, she had felt even then that she had to do some- 
thing. There is little doubt that what she was saying here was that 
her time as a victim of society had then been nearing an end. 

In explaining when in prison how socialism had first affected her in 
the early 1920s, Fumiko noted that it had merely ‘verified’ her life- 
experience and pre-existing spirit of rebellion. Having been poor all 
her life meant that she had always been ‘pushed around, tormented, 
oppressed, exploited and controlled’ by people with money: in short, 
‘plundered of [her] freedom’. No wonder she had developed a ‘deep 
antipathy for people with this sort of power’, as well as ‘a heartfelt 
sympathy for others in similar circumstances’. 115 She therefore related 
how she had been drawn to radical Koreans, including one she met at 
the English school in 1921. This man she called ‘Sir’ (perhaps Sir Dong 
Sung who was later in the Futeisha) was ‘taciturn and gloomy’, always 
silently reading socialist magazines. By mid-1921 Fumiko had met 
another Korean radical through ‘Segawa’, her lover from Suwa. The 
latter had paid her a surprise visit just before she went to Hamamatsu 
again for the summer holidays (at her father’s request). But again she 
and her father often quarrelled so she went next to visit the family in 
Suwa. Kikuno was again divorced and at the silk mill, so the family’s 
expectation was that once Fumiko became a teacher she would look 
after her mother. She wrote in disgust that she had had no intention 
of being a dutiful daughter: she had not been wearing herself out work- 
ing and studying so hard just to take responsibility for a mother who 
had ‘deserted her to pursue her own security in life’. 116 So once back 
in Tokyo, she met ‘Segawa’ again, as well as two Koreans who lived 
in the same lodgings as him. One of them particularly interested her 
because ‘Segawa’ had said he was a socialist. 



224 Life-narratives 

After Fumiko became disillusioned with ‘Segawa‘ because to him 
she was just a ‘toy’ to be discarded when no longer amusing, 117 she 
again met this Korean socialist (‘Hyun’), and the two discovered 
they had socialist friends in common. Fumiko said that because he 
was the only son of a wealthy family, thus a ‘petty-bourgeois intellec- 
tual’, he was not really accepted in the ‘serious’ or ‘earnest’ sections of 
the socialist movement. This suggests the anarchist sections of the 
movement: Osugi was well known for his theoretical attacks on 
‘petty-bourgeois intellectual’ leadership of the labour movement. 118 
After this meeting Fumiko and ‘Hyun’ became sexually involved, 
but before long she felt that he too was just using her as a plaything, 
so once again she was disappointed in socialists. 119 She emphasized 
two themes in this final part of her autobiography: her disillusionment 
with men (not always socialists) who merely used her, and, more 
generally, with socialists who did not put their politics into practice 
in their personal lives. While the former was certainly a political cri- 
tique of men who treated women as mere sex-objects, it was also 
part of a prologue to her finally finding a man, Pak, who would 
treat her seriously. This paralleled her narrative strategy of describing 
the process of political negation - Christianity, socialism, anarchism - 
that led her to nihilism. 

To add to her depression over ‘Hyun’, by this time the situation in 
her great-uncle’s house had become increasingly difficult. Her great- 
uncle testified that at first she was a serious student, but then 
‘bobbed her hair, even though she was a girl’, suggesting that she 
became wild, a ‘mopa' (modern girl). When he scolded her she 
‘talked back, going on about things she did not understand’. The 
judge asked whether that meant she was infatuated with socialism, 
and he replied vaguely that he did not know anything about socialism 
and had thought she wanted to join ‘Tenrikyo or something’. Presum- 
ably, he meant that she was influenced by some new ‘radical’ sort of 
thinking (it is possible that he was confusing Tenrikyo with Christi- 
anity). When then asked why Fumiko left his house, he answered 
that he ‘hated Tenrikyo and socialism’; having a member of his house- 
hold influenced by these would be bad for business. It seems there was 
not much basis for communication between Fumiko and her great- 
uncle. 120 

According to Fumiko, she had left of her own accord, and then 
found work as a live-in waitress at a small restaurant in Hibiya. The 
proprietor, Iwasaki, explained to Tatematsu later that Fumiko had 
been recommended by a socialist then in the Gyominkai. In the latter 
part of 1921, she therefore continued with her schooling by night 



Kaneko Fumiko ( 1922-1926 ) 225 


while working during the day at this ‘socialist stew’ ( oden ) restaurant. 
The food must have been cheap because Iwasaki told the judge that 
he subscribed to the ‘humanistic’ principle that a society based on 
the idea that ‘those who don’t work shouldn’t eat’ needed to be re- 
formed. 121 Fumiko might have been thinking of his words when she 
wrote this tanka: 

You don’t work, you don’t eat; 

You do work, your burden gets heavier. 

That’s 

today’s world. 122 

By this time Fumiko was nearing the dramatic finale (and real 
‘origin’) of her narrative: her embracement of nihilism. According to 
Niiyama Hatsuyo, it was at night school that she first met Fumiko 
early in 1 922. 123 This section of Fumiko’s memoirs was entitled ‘To 
a Task! To My Own Task!’, and thus it was here that she introduced 
those who helped her to find and take up this work of her own: 
Niiyama and Pak Yeol. It was in this section that she introduced the 
mature Fumiko, the nihilist who was the sum total of all the experi- 
ences, inspirations and disillusionments that she had so far described. 
The final section of her memoirs is where she portrays herself as 
having left behind her: family; working for others and being exploited; 
‘socialism’; formal education and dreams of worldly success; and the 
last vestiges of an adherence to conventional morality. 

Fumiko was not explicit about it in her memoirs, but in this last sec- 
tion where she had arrived at the end- point of her development into a 
nihilist, the life-construct she apparently only now presented was the 
world according to a fully fledged ‘nihilist’. When she spoke now of 
how her attitudes toward education had undergone a significant 
change by 1922, for example, what she felt she was presenting was a 
nihilist critique of formal education and worldly success. The most 
important thing in her life had long been education. Now, however, 
she saw no point in trying to excel in the rigidly stratified society of 
the day: it was only people with wealth, privilege and opportunity 
who became more wealthy and powerful 124 . To Fumiko (and Niiyama, 
apparently) the very concept of worldly success was meaningless, but 
there was still something she could do, some ‘task’ in life that was 
more important than ‘greatness’ in the eyes of others. As for her criti- 
cism of socialism and revolutionary leaders, Niiyama, it seems, had 
also despised the people in such movements and been sceptical 
about revolutionary idealism. Fumiko wrote that like Niiyama she, 
too, doubted that one could really change society in such a way that 



226 Life-narratives 

would lead to the well-being of every single person. Still, through 
acting (‘on one’s ego’) one could be fulfilled and free, which was not 
the same as working toward a distant utopian ideal. Overall, one 
can see that what mostly constituted her ‘nihilism’ was a negative 
critique of society, state socialism and existing revolutions to the last 
influenced by anarchism (of all types); 125 a positive view of violent tac- 
tics and individualistic rebellion inspired largely by nihilism-populism 
(also individualistic anarchism); and a dismissal of revolutionary uto- 
pias derived from egoistic nihilism (probably Stirner and Nietzsche). 

Fumiko was, according to her own account, already a nihilist by the 
time she met Pak Yeol in February 1922. Now she had finally found a 
kindred spirit. She had wanted to meet him from the time a Korean 
communist friend showed her a short poem of Pak’s that was so 
‘powerful’ she was ‘enraptured’ by it. Hence, she begged the friend 
she called ‘Chung’ to introduce her. Fumiko did not include the 
poem in her autobiography, but she did note in one testimony that 
it was called ‘Inukoro’ which suggests something about its content: 
in the testimony where the judge was asking about the scornful termi- 
nology the Futeisha used (for emperor, judges, etc.), she explained that 
they called the police either burudoggu (literally, ‘[watchjdogs of the 
bourgeoisie’) or inukoro (‘puppies’, a variant of ‘inu’ or ‘dog’ meaning 
undercover police or i heir informers). 126 When she met Pak not long 
after, however, she was disappointed to find him curt and seemingly 
uninterested in her. Nevertheless, after that first meeting, she was 
still very interested because, she said, he had such a powerful presence. 
According to ‘Chung’, Pak at that time was unemployed and homeless 
and Fumiko was amt zed that such a shabbily turned out ‘homeless 
dog’ could conduct himself almost like ‘royalty’, but to this ‘Chung’ 
responded that this was probably because he was ashamed of being 
economically dependent on comrades. He added, however, that there 
were few so ‘earnest’ in thought and action as Pak. 127 The portrait 
Fumiko painted of Pak most of the time was one that was meant to 
emphasize his power and political rectitude, determination and 
defiance. 

Fumiko’s account of her ‘proposal’ to Pak was discussed in 
Chapter 4 - her asking him first if he was single, next if he was hostile 
toward all Japanese people, then if he was only an independence acti- 
vist. However, he had his own ideology and his own task , according to 
Fumiko: by the time they met, he had lost interest in a movement that 
‘only talked and published’; and wanted to ‘follow his own path’. 
Reassured on these three points, she recalled saying at last, ‘I have dis- 
covered something in you that I’ve been searching for. I believe I can 



Kaneko Fumiko ( 1922-1926) 227 

work with you.’ 128 But to this, Pak replied coldly that he was ‘no-one 
of any importance, merely someone who continued to live only 
because he seemed to be unable to die’. Not long after, however, he 
apparently decided to find some cheap lodgings to have a base from 
which to organize politically, and Fumiko responded enthusiastically 
to his suggestion that she join him. 129 She wrote that he had observed 
that if the bourgeoisie celebrated their marriages by going on honey- 
moons, he and Fumiko would mark I heir ‘marriage’ by putting out 
a political publication. Fumiko responded that she had a copy of 
Kropotkin’s Conquest of Bread, which they could translate, but Pak 
pointed out that it had already been done (actually by K5toku in 
1907). It is interesting that this ‘nihilist’ would want to translate 
Kropotkin. 

This was the beginning of their political life together. Fumiko there- 
fore added a postscript to her prison memoirs, explaining why they 
ended abruptly with the promise of a personal and political commit- 
ment between herself and Pak. As she had said at the outset, it was 
meant to be an account only of her past personal-political history 
(her development into a nihilist); even if Judge Tatematsu had 
wanted her to, it was not necessary to write about her political 
involvement with Pak and the Futeisha, or about the treason incident. 
Near the end of her memoirs she wrote the following: 

My notes end here. I am not at liberty to write here about later 
events, except about Pak’s and my life together as a couple. But 
it is sufficient for my purposes to have written just this much. 

What made me like this? I guess it’s not for me to say anything 
about this. It is enough that I have revealed here the history of 
half a lifetime. Compassionate readers should understand well 
enough from this record. I am confident about this. 130 

On one level it is not at all difficult to see what Fumiko had set out to 
do in this story: she wanted to use her experience as a weapon against 
those who represented Japan as a harmonious ‘family-state’ under the 
paternal protection of a divine emperor and his agents. Also, if readers 
understood ‘what made [her] like this’ they might be encouraged to 
change the society responsible. What her account showed, however, 
is that however truthful she was about events in her life - something 
that is verified by the testimonies of witnesses - often she interpreted 
them differently from others. 

Fumiko represented Japan as a society that ‘warped’ its people and 
forced them to live in an ‘unnatural’ condition of servitude and 
inequality. She often described herself as warped, but she expressed 



228 Life-narratives 

no personal sense of shame over this: it was not she who was respon- 
sible for it but others. In a broad sense, her target was what I would 
term the ‘authoritarian paternalism’ that was very much a part of 
emperor-system patr: archal-capitalist imperialism. Whether or not 
she had actually plotted to kill the emperor, her ‘treachery’ lay both 
in her statements to udges that the imperial family should be over- 
thrown and in the systematic critique of society she presented in her 
memoirs, testimonies (including treatises), and poems. Fumiko’s 
critique of society is clear enough in the texts she narrated to and 
for a judge, but what makes its systematic, many-faceted nature 
even clearer is comparing and contrasting them with some of the wit- 
ness interrogation records. In 1925, even while in prison, Fumiko was 
engaged in a war of words, not just with prison and judicial officials or, 
more broadly, the state, but still also with her family and others whose 
representations of her life and character and whose views of reality she 
opposed. Hopefully, reading her life-story against the accounts of wit- 
nesses called before T atematsu has also served continually to empha- 
size the fact that he was the immediate audience of Fumiko’s and other 
representations of her life - the central figure in the context of their 
production, even their cause. One cannot lose sight of the fact that 
this would, in part, determine how such stories were told. 

Thus, what Fumiko was saying in the final section of her memoirs 
was that most of her life she had been exploited by the strong - she 
had been a victim - but even by 1922 this was no longer the case. 
Once she had been a creature subject to the will of others, but now 
she was a creator of her Self and her world. The whole final section 
of her memoirs is about self-empowerment through nihilism: taking 
control of her own life and destiny; in short, transcendence. 

II 

Before turning to the life-construct Fumiko presented in her trial tes- 
timonies, it is first necessary to recall that at the end of her memoirs, 
she wrote of a silent promise to Pak that they would now ‘live and die 
together’. But whether or not they did plan to die together while ful- 
filling a shared political ‘task’ remains unclear. There are suggestions 
in the testimonies of Fumiko and other members of the Futeisha 
that back in 1922— 192T she had not known all about Pak’s terroristic 
plans and activities. One said that once when he visited Pak to talk 
about plans to get furds to procure bombs from overseas, Pak had 
wanted to talk to him outside so that Fumiko would not hear. 131 
Fumiko was clearer in her trial testimonies than in her memoirs 



Kaneko Fumiko ( 1922-1926 ) 229 


about the general nature of the pact she apparently made with Pak at 
the beginning of their relationship. There she emphasized that she had 
insisted that it be based on mutual respect: he was to forget she was a 
woman and treat her as a comrade. There is no doubt Fumiko’s repre- 
sentation of this ideal personal-political partnership was one that 
centred upon sexual equality. 132 Equal partners in crime could reason- 
ably be expected to be sentenced equally. It is nevertheless quite pos- 
sible that Pak had been unaware of her intention to die with him until 
he was told by the judge what she had been saying. He first tried to 
protect her. After the judge pointed out that Article 73 carried the 
death penalty, he had refused to answer further questions until the 
record of one of Fumiko’s testimonies was read out. Pak only said 
that they had plotted together when it was clear to him that she had 
already claimed an involvement in a plan to procure bombs through 
anarchists in Shanghai or Korea - and throw them during an imperial 
procession for the crown prince in the autumn of 1923. Only then did 
he change his story. 133 But it is still likely that Fumiko took cues from 
her interrogators, about what other defendants had said, to exaggerate 
her own guilt. As we have seen, in 1926 she admitted she had only 
known about his plans to procure bombs through Kim Choon Han 
after they had come to nothing, and this was specifically what they 
were being charged with. 

One way in which Fumiko’s early testimonies bring clarity to her 
memoirs is that in the former she summarized the social making of 
a nihilist more succinctly. Through these testimonies one gets a clearer 
picture of what she set out to do in the last section of her autobiogra- 
phy, which was to demonstrate her ultimate negation of power. (Not 
unlike Suga, Fumiko was at pains to present herself as a fully-fledged 
nihilist of long standing, because to admit that anything had changed 
substantially after her imprisonment would be to give her adversaries 
the edge.) There Fumiko indicated that she had arrived at this end- 
point through a process of negation: of parents and family, then con- 
ventional society, ‘socialism’, and finally the ‘somnolent’ masses. 134 
It was then that she was asked what nihilism was, and retorted that 
she had been talking all along about what her nihilism was: a 
specific sort of negation, total ‘annihilation’. 

From there Fumiko went on to talk about the survival of the fittest 
as the universal law of life. Obviously, hers was generally a conflict, 
not a consensus view of life as inherently based on love, human good- 
ness or social harmony (even if she did sometimes infer that pre- 
modern ‘primitive communist’ society was natural and good). Thus, 
she stressed that she was not so idealistic as to believe that people 



230 Life-narratives 

would ever live in a condition of real equality and freedom. 135 She then 
explained that even if she had intended to end her life during an act of 
throwing a bomb, it was for her own satisfaction: she did not much 
care whether it started a revolution or not because a new society 
would simply have new people in power. Asked by Tatematsu how 
she saw Japan’s state- social system, she responded by explaining her 
three-level theory of power (emperor, state, masses). Unlike Suga, 
Fumiko expounded her doctrine to the judges at length. She went 
into more detail abou; how she saw the world in subsequent testimo- 
nies like the twelfth, where she argued against the emperor-system, 
against law and morality as ‘the weapons of the strong’ (the ruling 
class), and against altruism (for egoism). 136 But for her final affirma- 
tion of Life, the broad outline of her construction of life was already 
there in her early testimonies in 1924, which have been referred to 
throughout. There is no necessity, then, to go any further with a dis- 
cussion of how she used her perception of socio-political reality as a 
counter-ideological weapon specifically in her testimonies, so I will 
close with a quotation from the twelfth testimony where she capped 
her treachery by doing her best to expose the emperor-system as a 
grand lie: 

We have been taught that the emperor is a descendant of the gods, 
and that his right to rule has been bestowed upon him by the 
gods. . . . We have in our midst someone who is supposed to be a 
living god, one who is omnipotent and omniscient, an emperor 
who is supposed to realize the will of the gods. Yet his children 
are crying because of hunger, suffocating to death in the coal 
mines, and being crushed to death by factory machines. Why is 
this so? Because, in truth, the emperor is a mere human being. 
We wanted to show the people that the emperor is an ordinary 
human being just 1 ke us. So we thought of throwing a bomb at 
him to show that he too will die like any other human being . . . 

The notion that the emperor is sacred and august is a fantasy. 
The people have been led to believe that the emperor and crown 
prince represent authorities that are sacred and inviolate. But 
they are simply vacuous puppets. The concepts of loyalty to the 
emperor and love cf nation are simply rhetorical notions that are 
being manipulated by the tiny group of the privileged classes to 
fulfil their own greed and interests. 137 

‘To make the emperor bleed!’: Fumiko was not the first to express this 
desire, even if the emperor/family-state/State Shinto system was by 
now more developed and refined than in Suga’s time. Once again, 



Kaneko Fumiko ( 1922-1926) 231 


whether or not Fumiko had plotted to prove the emperor was human, 
it is easy to see why the authorities wanted to be rid of her. 


CONCLUSION 

While we were able to have a glimpse at the Fumiko of 1922-1923, 
there are too few texts available from this period for us to get any 
clear sense of her view of life before her imprisonment. Her writings 
in the period before her arrest were less radical than we would 
expect of a nihilist, but were probably deliberately so. The likelihood 
that the group imposed certain silences on itself make it impossible to 
state with certainty how Fumiko’s arrest and imprisonment affected 
her total world-view. What is clear, however, is that she did not 
moderate her discursive representations of life when in prison; on the 
contrary, they became more radical. There are any number of indica- 
tions that she set herself up in direct antagonism to officialdom, even 
explicitly to its benevolent pretentions. She once declared to Judge 
Tatematsu that she would like to be out in the world again sometime, 
and she knew that all she had to do was say she had reformed ( in order 
to be forgiven). But what she went on to say to the judge was, ‘Instead 
of going down on my knees before power, I’d rather die and remain 
true to myself!’ 138 

At the close of the last chapter I spoke of the many Sugas, all of 
whom none the less used ‘their’ lived reality as a political weapon. 
With her it is possible to see such a continuity from 1902 to 1911. 
But one can ‘know’ only one Fumiko - mainly through close interpre- 
tation of the texts she produced in prison. Her prison texts cannot be 
left to speak for themselves about who she was earlier, because of the 
problem of the time and site of their production. Suga and Fumiko 
were very different people in some ways, but in others, certainly in 
the ways they ultimately centred life on conflict and struggle, they 
were very much alike. The one negated ideological constructs of reality 
with ‘anarchism’, the other with ‘nihilism’, and in doing so, they 
refused to be, or be seen as, social victims. Each appeared to be 
asking for pity about her ‘wretched’ past, implying at least a defensive 
self-justification: Fumiko was happy to admit that she was the 
‘warped’, unnatural product of an unnatural society, but also implied 
in more than one text that that was only before her discovery of nihi- 
lism, which through a process of negation finally became her (Zen-ish) 
‘great affirmation’ of life. What comes across most clearly in the late 
texts of both is their pride in what they had made of themselves. 



232 Life-narratives 

In the final analysis the point is not who really won these two wars. 
What seemed to be most important for each woman was that she not 
allow the enemy the last ‘word’. Ultimately, each of these propagan- 
dists by word and deed left behind an important historical legacy, 
her construction of her life and world. This Fumiko expressed in 
some of her poems even more succinctly than in her court testimonies, 
savagely so in the following tanka: 

Bent over, 

wa tching others from beneath 

my thighs - 

the state of the world I 

need to look at, upside-down. 139 

For her this was a world that made sense only when observed from a 
‘warped’ perspective. In order to look at (and live in) an inverted 
world, she had first been forced to invert herself, but such a contorted 
posture could only be temporary. In many ways Fumiko set out to 
show that with nihilism she had regained her ‘natural’ posture, which 
was erect. 



Epilogue 


‘Biographies do not finish with the death of the hero’, observed Jean- 
Michel Raynaud, and the same can be: said of the constructions indi- 
viduals place on their own lives and, in this case, their looming 
deaths . 1 Their final words, he continued, often go beyond death to 
suggest something of the ‘repercussions’, the ‘consequences’ of the 
life. This is certainly true of Kaneko Fumiko who went to a great 
deal of effort to demonstrate to a judge the present and future conse- 
quences of her life. Kanno Suga probably used her story in a similar 
way with her official ‘father’, the prosecutor. Further, when she 
spoke in her diary and in court of the meaning of her death and life 
- which would serve to ‘revitalize’ opposition to the state in the 
future - she too added ‘to a story telling the triumph of death’ over 
an individual, ‘a story telling the triumph of an individual over 
death ’. 2 She, like Fumiko, left this autobiographical work to posterity; 
and she too seemed to want it ‘to stand for [her] entire life’. When Suga 
and Fumiko were in prison, life was ‘reducible to a [single] meaning’, 
and that meaning was ‘struggle’. Yet Raynaud’s scepticism about teleo- 
logical methodology in life-narratives is warranted because we cannot 
lose sight of the fact that earlier they may not have defined themselves 
and their lives strictly in such terms. By the time of Suga’s final 
imprisonment, her fight against power had escalated to a point where 
it could not be other than the (ascribed) centre of her life and self. 

When Suga and Fumiko engaged in these discursive-political wars, 
in speaking out about oppression, they obviously sought to empower 
themselves. In a situation where the full weight of the power of the 
state was upon them, they threw out a challenge to their opponents 
and observers that they (too) were the creators of their situations 
and destinies. If at times they struck out without forethought in frus- 
tration at feeling powerless, in trying to wrest the meaning of their 
lives and deaths from those who believed that only they had the 



234 Epilogue 

power of life and death over them, Suga and Fumiko laid claim to self- 
creation and control. While they might never have believed themselves 
to be really in control of their fates, they were obviously determined 
not to be seen to be waiting passively for the blow to fall, as if they 
had nothing to do or say about the matter. In the texts Kanno Suga 
and Kaneko Fumiko wrote, articulated or acted out, therefore, victims 
became victors and death meant life. Quite apart from the question 
of other forms of im-mortality, out of destruction they moulded a 
constructive legacy to others in their political cultures. This legacy con- 
tained an admonition to the state, which was that an unequal and 
oppressive society was sure to give rise to its own negation: people 
such as Suga and Fumiko themselves. If not quite a ‘negation’, a 
society that went so far as to export its abuses of human rights 
would certainly create its own adversaries, as Fumiko intimated. 

Imperial Japan was founded even in late Meiji on a metaphor of 
paternalism that extended all the way up to a godly father-figure, 
and while a portion of this divinity was transferred, it was only to 
the emperor’s own (obedient) ‘children’. Therefore, amongst both 
Japan’s first-class citizens and its ‘adopted’ children, soon there were 
those who came to believe in the necessity of ‘parricide’ or ‘deicide’. 
No longer was the name of the emperor a rallying call only for loyalist 
radicalism, as it had been in the 1850s and 1860s. In the first and third 
decades of this century a number of unfilial children dreamed of taking 
their axes to the base of the pedestal upon which this ‘god-the-father’ 
had been placed. One or two did more than dream of it. And the 
thought of commoners hacking away with axes at the base of this 
‘holy’ monument brings to mind Fumiko’s words in the Supreme 
Court on 26 February 1926: 

Judge: Name? 

Fumiko: Kaneko Fumiko. 

Judge: Age? 

Fumiko: According, to you officials it’s twenty-four, but I myself 
seem to recollect being twenty-two. But speaking frankly, I don’t 
believe either. Whatever my age, it has no bearing on the life I’m 
living now anyway. 

Judge: Family status? 

Fumiko: Divine commoner [my emphasis]. 

Judge: Occupation? 

Fumiko: My occupation is the demolition of what now exists. 
Judge: Address? 

Fumiko: Tokyo Prison. 3 



Epilogue 235 


Pak had preceded Fumiko and answered in similar style, so after her 
turn came to perform for the assembled officials and public audience 
that included comrades, the judge promptly closed the public gallery 
in order to have some order in the courtroom. Clearly, for some at 
least, this was a woman who was magnificent in her ‘madness’. Her 
snide claim to divinity must have really capped the couple’s obvious 
contempt of court. If, as Inga Clendinnen has observed, under the 
lash adults are made children again, 4 what was made of Fumiko - 
or of Suga before her - was a daughter who stubbornly remained 
undutiful. 

By the 1920s, the Japanese subjects who were officially defined as 
treacherous, at least, if not necessarily treasonous, included even 
those who had the audacity to call for the ‘abolition of the monarchy’. 
The Japan Communist Party did not need to pose a real threat to the 
physical person of the emperor in order to fall foul of ‘peace-keepers’ 
who read this slogan as a direct attack on Japan’s ‘kokutai’ (national 
polity or character), or emperor-headed family-state. Communists, 
too, were unfilial, disloyal, disobedient children. But more than any- 
thing else, perhaps, what was also a function of the increasingly perva- 
sive paternalism of the system was the fact that even by the mid- 1920s 
a defendant’s state of repentance came to be deemed more worthy of 
consideration by the prosecution and judiciary. This originated with 
the Peace Preservation Law and culminated in the institutionalization 
of tenko in the early 1930s. While some might want to see in this pre- 
ference for thought reform over harsher penalties a ‘liberalization’ born 
of ‘Taisho Democracy’, to my mind it is the example, par excellence, of 
a long-term trend toward greater state authoritarianism. Now, how- 
ever, the ‘lash’ was of a different type. Because, all too obviously, 
many found convincing the patriarchal-nationalist fiction of the 
fatherly benevolence of (the emperor’s) officialdom, it might simply 
have been a more effective form of totalitarianism than institution- 
alized elsewhere. Not only did the tenko policy prove to be a highly 
successful weapon against communists in particular; in all likelihood 
Judge Tatematsu was one of many officials who used the lash in the 
conviction that these ‘un-Japanese’ children could thereby be brought 
back into the nation-state’s loving familial embrace. 

Both Fumiko and Suga revealed in full measure their intransigence 
and treachery when face to face with their adversaries. Forgiveness 
might have been a more realistic possibility for Fumiko, but she too 
refused to recant and throw herself on the mercy of her paternal 
‘protectors’. Both women might have been swayed at times by the 
‘kindnesses’ of some of those charged with their protection, but they 



236 Epilogue 


remained defiant. We can be reasonably sure that Fumiko remained 
so right until the end, even if we cannot be absolutely certain that 
her death was by her own hand. Only a short time before her death, 
however, she had declared that neither her life nor her death would 
be subject to someone else’s ‘whim’ or will. What the prison texts of 
both Kanno Suga and Kaneko Fumiko reveal, in short, is that ulti- 
mately they were determined that both their lives and their deaths 
would not be seen to be largely of someone else’s making. Each was 
happy to admit to being partly the product of her world, but was 
not resigned to either a fate or a knowledge of herself created by 
others. Whether in their own estimation Suga and Fumiko really 
were ‘victors over destiny’ in the end, they did their best to present 
themselves in that light. For them not to have done so would have 
been to accept that victims are only victims, and death is only death - 
or, rather, ‘annihilation’. 



Notes 


1 TREASON AND TREACHERY, DOCUMENTS AND 
DISCOURSE 

1 Michel Foucault, ‘The Life of Infamous Men’, in Meaghan Morris and 
Paul Patton (eds), Michel Foucault: Power, Truth, Strategy, Sydney, 
Feral Publications, 1979, p. 80. 

2 I am not suggesting that Foucault did not write elsewhere about regicide, 
since he began one work with an account of the drawing and quartering of 
Damien the regicide in 1757 in Paris. Michel Foucault, Discipline and 
Punish: The Birth of the Prison, Harmo idsworth, Penguin, 1977, pp. 3 ff. 

3 I will henceforth refer to the subjects by their given names. Male historical 
actors are most often referred to in Japanese sources by their surnames, 
except in cases where they were known by pen-names, or where using sur- 
names would be confusing. Women, on the other hand, are often referred 
to by their given names for various reasons including, I would argue, a 
presumption of familiarity derived from public-private distinctions. The 
issue is a complex one since it also raises biographical conventions in 
both Japanese and English, but I ultimately decided to use (legal) given 
names (hence ‘Suga’ not ‘Sugako’), largely because the similarity of the sur- 
names, Kanno and Kaneko, might prove confusing to readers unfamiliar 
with the Japanese language. 

4 See Setouchi Harumi, ‘Kanno Sugako: Koi to Kakumei ni Junjita Meiji no 
Onna (Bijoden Daikyuwa)’ [‘Kanno Sugako: the Meiji Woman who Sacri- 
ficed Herself for Love and Revolution (Biographies of Beautiful Women)’], 
Child Koron, vol. 80, no. 9 (September 1965), pp. 291-301. One of the first 
works in English where Suga was discussed in some detail was a biography 
of Kotoku. Here, however, she was treated more as a villain than a 
‘heroine’. F. G. Notehelfer, Kotoku Shusui: Portrait of a Japanese Radical, 
Cambridge University Press, 1971, pp. 167-8, 176. More recently, we still 
find works in Japanese that seem to be mostly interested in the subjects’ 
love-lives, for example, Suzuki Yuko (ed.), Shiso no Umi e (Kaihd to 
Kakumei), 21, Josei - Hangyaku to Kakumei to Teiko to, Tokyo, Shakai 
Hyoronsha, 1990 (Part Three: ‘Hangyaku to Ai to’ [‘Treason and 
Love’]), pp. 30-52. 

5 Foucault, ‘Infamous Men’, p. 79. 



238 Notes 


6 On the creation of political martyrs by both the Japanese authorities and 
their supporters, and opponents, see Robert Jay Lifton, Kat5 Shuichi and 
Michael R. Reich, Six Lives, Six Deaths: Portraits from Modern Japan, 
New Haven, Connecticut and London, Yale University Press, 1979, 
pp. 277 ff. 

7 Cited in Notehelfer, p. 185n. 

8 Ibid., pp. 188-9. 

9 Cf. Kanno, Prison Declaration [to Prosecutors] (3 June 1910), in Shimizu 
Unosuke (ed.), Kanno Sugako Zenshu, III, 3 vols, Koryusha, 1984, pp. 1 98— 
9; and Supreme Court Pretrial Interrogation [hereafter ‘Court Interroga- 
tion’], no. 13 (17 October 1910), in ibid., pp. 28 1—2. 

10 Kanno mentioned the five guilty parties more than once in her prison 
diary, the surviving portion of which covers the period between 18 and 
24 January 1911, the last week of her life: ‘Shide no Michikusa’ [‘A Pause 
on the Way to Death ’], in Zenshu, II, pp. 245-72. It is somewhat difficult to 
render its title into E nglish: ‘pausing’ may imply hesitation but is closer to 
the sense in Japanese of simply stopping on the way than rather more sug- 
gestive possibilities ike ‘loitering’, ‘dawdling’ or even ‘wasting time’. A 
near-complete translation of the diary can be found in Hane Mikiso 
(trans., ed.). Reflections on the Way to the Gallows: Voices of Japanese 
Rebel Women, New York, Pantheon, 1988, pp. 58-74. 

11 Kanno, Court Interiogation, no. 6 (13 June 1910), in Zenshu, III, p. 248. 
She probably excluced Uchiyama Gudo because he had been sentenced 
for an explosives violation a year before others were arrested in the 
(related) treason incident. 

12 Cited in Jay Rubin, Injurious to Public Morals: Writers and the Meiji State, 
Seattle and Londor , University of Washington Press, 1984, p. 160n; 
Hiraide’s views are also discussed in Nakamura Fumio, Tdtgyaku Jiken 
to Chishikijin, Tokyo, San’ichi Shobo, 1981, pp. 45-6. 

13 There is one work in English that deals briefly with this legal case: Richard 
Mitchell’s Janus-fac?d Justice: Political Criminals in Imperial Japan, 
Honolulu, University of Hawaii Press, 1992, pp. 43-5. 

14 For information about both the massacre and Pak Yeol’s political career, 
see Michael Weiner, The Origins of the Korean Community in Japan, 1910- 
1923, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1989. 

15 Komatsu Ryuji, ‘Haagyaku no Josei, Kaneko Fumiko: “Pak Yeol Jiken” 
Hashigaki’, Jiyu Shied, vol. 6 (July 1961), p. 43; cf. Morinaga EisaburO, 
‘Himerareta Saiban: Pak Yeol, Kaneko Fumiko Jiken, I', Horitsu Jiho, 
vol. 35, no. 3 (March 1963), pp. 58 ff. 

16 Mitchell, p. 45. 

17 The testimonies of the sixteen Futeisha members are included in Boku 
Retsu, Kaneko Fumiko Saiban Kiroku, Tokyo, Kokushoku Sensensha, 
1977. 

18 Their defence lawyer, Fuse Tatsuji, remarked on this in Unmei no Shdrisha: 
Pak Yeol, Seiki Shobo, 1946, p. 75. 

1 9 Prosecutors had almc st as much freedom to interrogate suspects as the pre- 
liminary court judges who, in practice if not by law, were able to continue 
with interrogations indefinitely in closed rooms. See Kim II Song, Pak 
Yeol, Tokyo, Godo Shuppan, 1974, pp. 172-3. 



Notes 239 


20 On Nanba Daisuke see Setouchi Harunii, ‘Kaneko Fumiko’, in Setouchi 
(ed.), Jinbutsu Kindai Joseishi, Onna no Issho, 6, Hangyaku no Onna no 
Roman, Tokyo, Kodansha, 1981, p. 143; on both incidents in Japan, 
cf. Kim, pp. 226-8; and on the Uiyoldan, Mukuge no Kai (eds), Chosen 
1930 Nendai Kenkyu, Tokyo, San’ichi Sltobo, 1982, pp. 86-7. 

21 Morinaga, p. 60. 

22 Cf. Komatsu, loc. cit.; Weiner, p. 152. 

23 Shimizu Unosuke (ed.), Kanno Sugako Zenshu, Tokyo, Koryusha, 1984. 

24 Kanno Suga, Diary, in Zenshu, II, pp. 245-72. 

25 See Rubin, pp. 156-7. 

26 For example, Shiota Shobei and Watanabe Junzo (eds), Hiroku Taigyaku 
Jiken, /-//, Tokyo, Shunjusha, 1959. 

27 Akai Tsutsuji no Hana: Kaneko Fumiko no Omoide to Kashu, Kokushoku 
Sensensha, 1984. The title of this booklet refers to poems about flowers 
in the prison garden. 

28 Hane includes sections of one extract from Fumiko’s prison memoirs in his 
chapter on her in his Reflections on the Way to the Gallows, pp. 75-124. 

29 Hane Mikiso (trans., ed.), Reflections, ‘The Road to Nihilism’, pp. 75-124; 
and Jean Inglis (trans.), Kaneko Fumiko: The Prison Memoirs of a Japanese 
Woman, London and New York, M.E. Sharpe, 1991. 

30 Kaneko Fumiko, Nani ga Watashi o Kosaseta ka, Tokyo, Chikuma ShobS, 
1984, p. 205. 

31 On the importance of confession in the prewar and postwar legal systems, 
cf. Elise Tipton, The Japanese Police State: The Tokko in Interwar Japan, 
London, Athlone Press, 1990, pp. 35-51; and also on the methods still used 
to extract confessions today, Igarashi Futaba, ‘Forced to Confess’, in 
Gavan McCormack and Sugimoto Yoshio (eds), Democracy in Contem- 
porary Japan, Sydney, Hale and Iremouger, 1986, pp. 195-214. 

32 Kim, pp. 176-7. 

33 Tipton, p. 31. 

34 This i s still a common practice today, according to Igarashi, p . 205; cf. John 
O. Haley, ‘Sheathing the Sword of Justice in Japan: An Essay on Law 
Without Sanctions’, Journal of Japanese Studies, vol. 8, no. 2 (Summer 
1982), pp. 266 If. 

35 See Jean Inglis, ‘Book Review: “What Made Me Like This?” The Prison 
Memories of Kaneko Fumiko’, Ampo: Japan- Asia Quarterly Review, 
vol. 13, no. 2 (1981), pp. 34-5. 

36 Perhaps the Supreme Court judges, for example, were considered too 
‘lenient’ for granting two of Pak Yeol’s demands: 1) that since he was in 
court as a representative of the Korean people, he should be allowed to 
don a Korean ‘crown’ and ‘royal’ (imperial) robes, symbolizing his equality 
with the judges; 2) that he be allowed to begin the proceedings by accusing 
Japan of plundering Korea, symbolizing his putting Japan on trial. On his 
demands, see Kim, pp. 214-15. 


2 THE WORK (STRUCTURE, LOGIC, METHOD) 

1 Works by Greg Dening, Inga Clendinnen, June Philipp and Rhys Isaac, for 
example, will be referred to below. 



240 Notes 


2 Hayden White, ‘Interpretation in History’, in White, Tropics of Discourse: 
Essays in Cultural Criticism, Baltimore, Maryland, and London, John 
Hopkins University Press, 1978, pp. 51-80. 

3 On liberal-humanist autobiography, see Sidonie Smith, A Poetics of 
Women’s Autobiography, Bloomington and Indianapolis, Indiana Univer- 
sity Press, 1987; and Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson (eds), De/Colonizing 
the Subject: The Politics of Gender in Women’s Autobiography, Minne- 
apolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1992. 

4 Helene Bowen RadJeker, The Past Through Telescopic Sights: Reading 
the Prison-Life-Story of Kaneko Fumiko’, Japan Forum, vol. 7, no. 2 
(Autumn 1995), pp. 155-69; Raddeker, “‘Death as Life”: Political Meta- 
phor in the Testimonial Prison Literature of Kanno Suga’ (forthcoming 
in Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars). 

5 Elaine Jeffreys, ‘What is “Difference” in Feminist Theory and Practice?’, 
Australian Feminist Studies, no. 14 (Spring 1991), pp. 3, 10. 

6 For example, Joan Wallach Scott, Gender and the Politics of History, New 
York, Columbia University Press, 1988. 

7 Sharon Sievers treats Suga as an involuntary martyr by depicting her last 
days in prison in a way that is suggestive of failure and defeat, even though 
she concedes that well before her imprisonment Suga had been ‘ready to 
die in battle’. See Sievers, Flowers in Salt: The Beginnings of Feminist 
Consciousness in Modern Japan, Stanford, California, Stanford University 
Press, 1983, pp. 158-62. 

8 Tsurumi Shunsuke and Komatsu Ryuji are among those who emphasize 
that Kaneko Fumiko was framed. Cf. Tsurumi Shunsuke, ‘Kaisetsu’, in 
Kaneko Fumiko, Nani ga Watashi o Kdsaseta ka, Tokyo, Chikuma 
Shobo, 1984, p. 2 14; Komatsu Ryuji, ‘Hangyaku no Josei, Kaneko 
Fumiko: “Boku Reisu Jiken” Hashigaki’, Jiyu Shiso, vol. 6 (July 1961), 
p. 37. Also, on the completely trumped up charge’ of Kaneko Fumiko’s 
plotting to assassint.te the emperor, see Hane Mikiso, ‘Introduction’, in 
Jean Inglis (trans.), Kaneko Fumiko: The Prison Memoirs of a Japanese 
Woman, New York and London, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., 1991, p. xv. 

9 June Philipp, ‘Traditional Historical Narrative and Action-Oriented (or 
Ethnographic) History’, Historical Studies, vol. 2 (April 1983), pp. 340, 
350. 

10 H. D. Harootunian. Things Seen and Unseen: Discourse and Ideology in 
Tokugawa Nativism, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1988, p. 3. 

11 H. Lawson, Reflexivity: The Post-modern Predicament, London, Hutchin- 
son, 1985, p. 10. 

12 Paul de Man, ‘Task of the Translator’, in de Man, The Resistance to 
Theory, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1986, pp. 87, 94. 

13 Philipp, p. 352. 

14 The often-cited phrase, ‘confusion of tongues’, brings to mind Clifford 
Geertz, and his warning about the complex nature of analysis of cultural 
meaning is pertinent. While one might never ‘get anywhere near to the 
bottom’ of the interpretative problem at hand, an acceptance of the inevit- 
ability of there often being many more layers of meaning than we can pos- 
sibly suspect is preferable to the over-confident approach to meaning which 
has also carried over into translation. In this work I will often direct my 
attention to problems of linguistic meaning in such a way as to imply. 



Notes 241 


like Foucault or de Man, that translation is never true equivalence but 
rather interpretation or ‘reduction’. Cf. C. Geertz, The Interpretation of 
Cultures, New York, Basic Books, 197.'!, p. 29; Foucault cited in Hayden 
White, p. 237; de Man, loc. cit. 

15 Philipp, p. 350. Cf. Rhys Isaac, The Transformation of Virginia, 1740-1790, 
Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 1982, p. 325. 

16 In Meaghan Morris and Paul Patton (eds), Michel Foucault: Power, Truth, 
Strategy, Sydney, Feral Publications, 1979, p. 79. 

17 Ibid., p. 85. 

18 Ibid., p. 86. 

19 Hane Mikiso, Reflections on the Way to the Gallows: Rebel Women in 
Prewar Japan, New York, Pantheon, 1988, pp. 3, 259. 

20 John Crump, The Origins of Socialist Thought in Japan, London and 
Canberra, Croom Helm, 1983, p. 313. 

21 While ken'i or kenryoku, terms the subjects used, could be rendered as 
either ‘power’ or ‘authority’, I prefer the former because neither Suga 
nor Fumiko would have accepted the latter’s implication of legitimacy. 
On power, authority and legitimacy, see J. G. Merquior, The Veil and the 
Mask: Essays on Culture and Ideology, London, Routledge and Kegan 
Paul, 1979, pp. 1-38. 

22 Ibid. Harootunian is not unlike Foucault in distancing himself from Marx- 
ism-Leninism (‘diamat’) in such a way as to overlook the fact that mechan- 
istic base-superstructure notions and ideology-as-conspiracy assumptions 
have long been discredited by Marxists (not just their liberal-democratic 
critics). See Harootunian, pp. 1 ff.; and Foucault, ‘Truth and Power’, 
in Colin Gordon (ed.), Power /Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other 
Writings 1972-1977 by Michel Foucault, Brighton, Harvester Press, 1980, 
pp. 117-18. 

23 For a thoughtful discussion of this issue in the context of Japanese histori- 
ography, see Herman Ooms, Tokugawo Ideology: Early Constructs, 1570- 
1680, Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 1985, pp. 7-9. 

24 And5 Shoeki cited in Maruyama Masao, Studies in the Intellectual History 
of Tokugawa Japan, Tokyo, University of Tokyo Press, 1974, p. 261. 

25 Ooms, p. 296. 

26 On ideological ‘masks’ versus ‘veils’, see Merquior, loc. cit. 

27 Carol Gluck, Japan’s Modern Myths: Ideology in the Late Meiji Period, 
Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 1985, p. 78. 

28 Jon Halliday, A Political History of Japanese Capitalism, New York and 
London, Monthly Review Press, 1975, p. 41. 

29 Ibid., p. 42. 

30 Gluck, pp. 281-2. 

31 Irokawa Daikichi, The Culture of the Meiji Period, Princeton, New Jersey, 
Princeton University Press, 1985, p. 310. 

32 On the Peace Preservation Law of 1925, which allowed for a reduction 
of penalty if offenders were co-operative, see Richard Mitchell, Thought 
Control in Prewar Japan, Ithaca, New York, and London, Cornell Univer- 
sity Press, 1976; on tenko, cf. Mitchell and Patricia Steinhoff, ‘Tenkd: 
Ideology and Social Integration in Prewar Japan’, unpublished doctoral 
thesis, Harvard University, 1969. On one group of communists encouraged 
to recant while in prison in 1929, the then pro-imperial ‘Workers’ Faction’, 



242 Notes 


cf. Fukunaga Isao, Kyosantdin no Tenko to Tenndsei, Tokyo, San-ichi 
Shobo, 1978, pp. 40-8; and Shisd no Kagaku Kenkyukai (eds), Tenko, I, 
Tokyo, Heibonsha, 1978, pp. 147 ff. 

33 In August 1926, Judge Tatematsu resigned (after having received a pro- 
motion!) apparently in order to avoid disciplinary action over the photo 
scandal. Morinaga Eisaburo, ‘Himerareta Saiban: Pak Yeol, Kaneko 
Fumiko Jiken, I’, Hbritsu Jihd, vol. 35, no. 3 (March 1963), p. 60. 

34 Inga Clendinnen, Ambivalent Conquests: Maya and Spaniard in Yucatan, 
1517-1570, Cambric ge, Cambridge University Press, 1987, p. 113. 

35 Isaac, pp. 344-6. 

36 Hane, Reflections, p 258. 

37 For an interesting account of the traditional and modern aspects of Meiji 
hegemonic ideology concerning women, see Sharon H. Nolte and Sally 
Ann Hastings, ‘The Meiji State’s Policy Toward Women, 1890-1910’, 
in Gail Lee Bernstein (ed.), Recreating Japanese Women, 1600-1945, 
Berkeley, University of California Press, 1991, pp. 151-74. 

38 Ooms, ‘Introduction: Beginnings’, p. 5. 

39 Cf. Jacques Derrida, ‘Structure, Sign and Play in the Discourse of the 
Human Sciences’, in Derrida, Writing and Difference, London, Routledge, 
1990 (Alan Bass, trans., ed.). 

40 On teleology in narrative history, see Philipp, p. 34. Leith Morton alludes 
to this problem wher in the conclusion to his biography of the leftist writer, 
Arishima Takeo, he says, ‘This final act of suicide dominates the perspec- 
tive of virtually all who have written on his life. . . . The compelling need to 
understand and explain that suicide turns his biography into an examina- 
tion of cause.’ But his warning against reading Arishima’s writings ‘solely 
from the perspective of his suicide’ looks like an afterthought, given that he 
begins his biography by raising two central questions to be answered, one 
being ‘Why did the novelist choose to end his life in so dramatic a fashion?’ 
See Leith Morton, Divided Self: A Biography of Arishima Takeo, Sydney, 
Allen and Unwin, 1988, pp. 2, 212. 

41 Komatsu (pp. 38 ff.) is simply retells the family history that Fumiko told, 
problematizing it only when observing that perhaps she was a bit preju- 
diced against her father. Her account needs to be ‘supplemented’, he 
observes, in order to get a ‘true’ picture - so that we can ‘judge’ the 
family. For an extended critique of such approaches, see Bowen Raddeker, 
'The Past Through Telescopic Sights’, op. cit. 

42 Robert Jay Lifton, Kato Shuichi and Michael R. Reich, Six Lives, Six 
Deaths: Portraits from Modern Japan, New Haven, Connecticut, and 
London, Yale University Press, 1979, p. 14. 

43 Jean-Michel Raynaud, ‘What’s What in Biography’, in James Walter (ed.), 
Reading Life Histories: Griffith Papers on Biography, Griffith University, 
Australia, 1981, p. 93. 

44 Ibid. 

45 Ooms, p. 5. 

46 For example, Itoya Toshio, Kanno Suga: Heiminsha no Fujin Kakumeika 
Zb, Tokyo, Iwanami Shinsho, 1970, pp. 5 ff.; and Sievers, p.140. 

47 Suga’s left her one-time lover, Arahata, some years before her death, and 
years after that he was clearly still resentful. None the less, his evaluations 
of her have too often been uncritically repeated. Cf. F. G. Notehelfer, 



Notes 243 


Kotoku Shusui: Portrait of a Japanese Radical, Cambridge, Cambridge 
University Press, 1971, p. 167; and Arahata Kanson, Kanson Jiden, 
Tokyo, Ronsdsha, 1961. 

48 By ‘presenting’ texts I mean a careful consideration of the effects on a text 
of the conditions of textual production - the text’s context or present, its 
intended audience, etc. On presenting and presenting, see Greg Dening, 
‘History as a Symbol Science’, in The Bounty: An Ethnographic History, 
Melbourne, University of Melbourne Monograph Series, 1988, pp. 100-2. 

49 Lifton et al., p. 289. 


3 KANNO SUGA: ‘THE UNSWERV1ING PATH’ 

1 Kanno ‘Sugako’, ‘ Shide no Michikusd [Diary] (20 January 1911), in 
Shimizu Unosuke (ed.), Kanno Sugako Zenshu, II, Tokyo, Koryusha, 
1984, p. 255. This ‘hitosuji michi' (straight road) was clearly meant to indi- 
cate a path from which Suga had felt she could not, or would not, deviate. 
I have therefore preferred ‘unswerving’ because of its common association 
with commitment or purpose. 

2 While it is common enough to use familiar terms like ‘gallows’ and ‘scaf- 
fold’ in connection with executions in Japan at this time, in fact Suga 
and her co-defendants were garrotted. 

3 Numanami Masanori, ‘Kotoku Ippa no Keishi Setsuna’, in Ichiba 
Takajiro (hikki), Numanami Masanori Dan, cited in Itoya Toshio, Kanno 
Suga: Heiminsha no Fujin Kakumeiku Zb, Tokyo, Iwanami Shinsho, 
1970, p. 210. 

4 Cited in ibid, (account by prison warde", Sugano Josaemon). 

5 Miyako Shinbun and Tokyo Asahi Shinbun, cited in Hane Mikiso, Reflec- 
tions on the Way to the Gallows: Rebel Women in Prewar Japan, New 
York, Pantheon, 1988, pp. 57-8. 

6 On the reactions of Meiji intellectuals to the high treason incident, for 
example the poet, Ishikawa Takuboku, see Nakamura Fumio, Taigyaku 
Jiken to Chishikijin, Tokyo, San’ichi Shobo, 1981, pp. 44-5. 

7 Arahata Kanson, Kanson Jiden, Tokyo, Ronsosha, 1961, p. 220. 

8 Kanno, Diary (21 January 1911), in Zenshu, II, p. 262. 

9 See Kanno, Postcard to Baibunsha (23 January 1911), in Zenshu, III, 
p. 188. The Baibunsha was a literary hackwork (ghostwriting) and trans- 
lating business venture that Sakai started up in December 1910. It played 
an important role in helping socialists to survive financially during these 
‘winter’ years of Japanese socialism. Stefano Bellieni, Notes on the History 
of the Left-Wing Movement in Meiji Japan, Napoli, Istituto Orientale di 
Napoli, 1979, p. 41. 

10 Kanno, Diary (23 January 1911), in Zenshu, II, pp. 266-7. 

11 John Crump reminded me by correspondence that Arahata Kanson 
erected a stone for Suga in 1971. When he visited Shoshunji he could 
find no trace of Hide’s grave, though there is an unmarked flat stone 
near a similar (original) one for Suga. 

12 Kanno, loc. cit. 

13 See Kanno, Sealed Card to Sakai Tameko and Sakai Toshihiko (4 January 
1911), in Zenshu, III, pp. 176. 



244 Notes 


14 Letter to Yoshikawa Morikuni (21 January 1911), in ibid., p. 182. 

15 [Kanno] ‘Yuzukijo, ‘Waga Tera’ [first published in Mainichi Denpo , 
no. 1618, April 1908], in Zenshu, II, pp. 227-9. ‘Yuzukijo’ was one of 
the pen-names Suga used as a journalist. 

16 Kanno, Diary (23 January 1911), in Zenshu, II, p. 266. 

17 Cf. ibid., pp. 266-7 and diary entry for 19 January, p. 251. 

18 Ibid. (20 January 1911), p. 255. 

19 Ibid. (19 January 1991), in Zenshu, II, pp. 250-1. 

20 See Commentator’s notes on Kanno’s prison diary in Zenshu, II, pp. 274-5. 

21 Kanno, loc. cit. 

22 On the persecution and martyrdoms or apostasies of European priests 
(mostly Jesuits) and Japanese laity, mainly after 1614, see George Elison, 
Deus Destroyed: The Image of Christianity in Early Modern Japan, 
Boston, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press, 1973, Part II, pp. 109 ff. 

23 Kanno, Diary (21 January 1911), in Zenshu, II, pp. 259-60. 

24 Kanno, ‘Personal Correspondence’, in Zenshu, III, pp. 179-80. 

25 There has been some debate about whether Ishikawa Sanshiro was already 
an anarchist in Meiji. However, he seems to have been closer to the ‘direct 
action’ faction and, from 1908, was clearly more interested in Kropotkin 
than Marx: see Osawa Masamichi, ‘Ishikawa Sanshiro Ron’, in Tsurumi 
Shunsuke (ed.), Ishikawa Sanshiro Shu, Tokyo, Chikuma Shobo, 1976, 
pp. 424-7. 

26 In Kanno, Letter to Imamura Rikisaburo (13 January 1911), in Zenshu, 
III, p. 179. She may have sent him three poems as two lines were censored. 

27 Shimizu Unosuke, ‘Kanno Sugako Shdden: Shogai to Kod5’ [Biography], 
in Shimizu (ed.), Zenshu, III, p. 305. 

28 Sakai Toshihiko in Heimin Shinbun (no. 30, 24 February 1907), cited in 
Sharon Sievers, Flowers in Salt: The Beginnings of Feminist Consciousness 
in Modern Japan, Stanford, California, Stanford University Press, p. 152. 

29 See Kanno, Sealed Cards to Tanikawa Takeo, and to Osugi Sakae and 
Hori-Osugi Yasuko, both on 21 January 191 1, in Zenshu, III, pp. 183, 186. 

30 On her eternal separation from loved ones, see the same letter to Takeo 
(ibid.) and a card on the same date to Sakai Tameko, p. 184. The reference 
to Zoshigaya was in the latter. 

31 Kanno, Diary (20 January 1911), in Zenshu, II, p. 255. 

32 Kanno, Declaration to Prosecutors in Prison [hereafter ‘Prison Declara- 
tion’] (3 June 1910), in Zenshu, III, p. 199. 

33 See, for example, Kanno’s Prison Declaration of 26 September 1910, in 
ibid., p. 275. 

34 Jay Rubin, Injurious to Public Morals: Writers and the Meiji State, Seattle 
and London, University of Washington Press, 1984, p. 165. 

35 Hiraide Shu, Gyakuw, cited in Itoya, p. 197. 

36 Kanno, Court Interrogation (3 June 1910), in Zenshu, III, p. 216. 

37 Kanno, Letter to Kiitoku Shusui (12 May 1910), in ibid., p. 160. 

38 Kanno, Letter to Kiitoku Shusui (16 May 1910), in ibid., p. 162. 

39 Cf. [Kanno] ‘Yuzukjo’, ‘Kata Kanroku’ [first published in Murd Shinpd, 
no. 581, 18 April 1906], and ‘Onna toshite no Kib5 [no. 588, 9 May 
1906], in ZenshQ, II, pp. 120, 144. 

40 Kanno, Diary (21 January 1911), in Zenshu, II, p. 256; and on the ‘new 
shoots’, p. 259. 



Notes 245 


41 See Kanno, Court Interrogation (3 June 1910), in Zenshu, III, p. 208. 

42 See also [Kanno] ‘Sugako’, ‘Kanson-kun o Okuru’ [first published in Murd 
Shinpd, no. 581, 18 April 1906], in Zenshu, II, p. 118. 

43 Kanno, Court Interrogation, no. 13 (17 October 1910), in Zenshu, III, 
pp. 279-280. 

44 Cited in W. R. LaFleur, ‘Japan’, in Frederick H. Hoick (ed.), Death and 
Eastern Thought: Understanding Death in Eastern Religions and Philoso- 
phies, Nashville, Tennessee, and New York, Abingdon Press, 1974, p. 245. 

45 KStoku Shusui, ‘Eleventh Pretrial Hearing Record’ (25 July 1910), in 
Shiota Shdbei and Watanabe Junzd (eds), Hiroku Taigyaku Jiken, II, 
Tokyo, Shunjusha, 1959, p. 26. 

46 Kotoku’s Thirteenth Pretrial Hearing Record (17 October 1910), in ibid., 
p. 39. 

47 Kanno, Diary (23 January 1911), in Zenshu, II, p. 269. 

48 Ibid. 

49 Hiraide, GyakutS, cited in Itoya, p. 198. 

50 Hane, Reflections, p. 57; Rubin, p. 165. 

51 On death, vengeance and wandering spirits, cf. Lafcadio Hearn, Kwaidan: 
Stories and Studies of Strange Things, Rutland, Vermont, and Tokyo, 
Tuttle, 1971, pp. 45-9, 53-61; and Robert J. Smith, Ancestor Worship in 
Contemporary Japan, Stanford, California, Stanford University Press, 
1974, pp. 41 ff. 

52 Kanno, Prison Declaration, no. 1 (2 June 1910), in Zenshu, III, pp. 195-6. 

53 Ibid. 

54 On Yamagata, see R. F. Hackett, ‘Political Modernization and the Meiji 
Genro’, in R. E. Ward (ed.), Political Development in Modern Japan, 
Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 1968, pp. 65-97; and 
for a more critical view, E. H. Norman, ‘The Autocratic State’, in John 
Dower (ed.), Origins of the Modern Japanese State: Selected Writings of 
E. H. Norman, New York, Pantheon, 1975, pp. 65-97. 

55 Kanno, Court Interrogation (3 June 1910), in Zenshu, III, p. 210. 

56 On the theme of evil officials around the ‘throne’ (lord) in Tokugawa 
peasant tales, see Anne Walthall, Social Conflict and Popular Culture in 
Eighteenth-Century Japan, Tucson, University of Arizona Press, 1986, 
pp. 178 ff. 

57 Kanno, Prison Declaration, no. 1 (2 June 1910), in Zenshu, III, p. 198. 

58 Kanno, Court Interrogation (3 June 1910), in ibid., p. 209; and for her 
account of the Red Flag Incident, Court Interrogation, n. 13 (17 October 
1910), p. 278. 

59 [Kanno] ‘Yuzukijo’, ‘Hiji Deppo’ [first published in Murd Shinpd, no. 580 
(15 April 1906)], in Zenshu, II, p. 113. 

60 Kanno, Postcard to Kotoku Shusui (11 May 1910), in Zenshu, III, p. 159. 

61 The terms ‘pessimism-optimism’ have been used to distinguish religious 
systems on the basis of whether salvation is deemed possible (see Bertrand 
Russell, A History of Western Philosophy, London, Allen and Unwin, 1979, 
pp. 291, 756). Yet for Nakamura Hajime, optimism aboutthis life or world 
means that one does not represent it as inherently painful, impure or unreal 
in opposition to a pure or blessed, true life in the next world. (Ways 
of Thinking of Eastern Peoples: India, China, Tibet, Japan, Honolulu, 
East-West Center Press, 1964, pp. 361 ff.) The term will be used here in 



246 Notes 


the second sense, :hough without necessarily implying anything about 
belief in an ‘other’ world. 

62 Kanno, Diary (21 January 1911), in Zenshu, II, p. 261. 

63 Kanno, ‘Heiminsha yori’ [first published in Jiyu Shiso ( Free Thought), 
editorial, 10 June 1909], in Zenshu, II, p. 242. 

64 Kanno, Diary (21 January 1911), in Zenshu, II, p. 259. 

65 Ibid., p. 256. 

66 Ibid., p. 245. 

67 Ibid. (22 January 19J1), pp. 263-4. 

68 Kanno, Letters to Osugi Sakae and Hori-Osugi Yasuko, and to Sakai 
Toshihiko (21 January 191 1), in Zenshu, III, pp. 185-6. 

69 Kanno, Diary (20 January 1911), in Zenshu, II, p. 253. 

70 Ibid., pp. 257-8. 

71 Ibid., p. 272. 

72 Ibid. (23 January 1911), p. 270. 

73 Ibid. (20 January 1911), pp. 255-6. 


4 KANEKO FUMIKO: ‘THE WILL TO DIE’ 

1 Akai Tsutsuji no h'ana: Kaneko Fumiko no Omoide to Kashu, Tokyo, 
Kokushoku Sensensha, 1984, p. 39. 

2 Tokyo Asahi Shinbun, 31 July 1926, p. 1 [photocopied newspaper reports 
included in], Kaneko Fumiko, Pak Yeol Saiban Kiroku, Tokyo, Kokushoku 
Sensensha, 1977, p. 796. [All testimonies referred to in this chapter are 
from this volume.] 

3 Cf. ibid.; Setouchi Harumi, Yohaku no Haru, Tokyo, Chuko Bunko, 1975, 

p. 66. 

4 Facsimile of death certificate in Setouchi, ibid., p. 80. 

5 Asahi Shinbun, loc. nit.; ibid., pp. 62-3 . 

6 Cited in Setouchi, p 62. 

7 Asahi Shinbun, loc. nit. 

8 See Mochizuki Kei, ‘Kaneko Fumiko-san no Shozo ni tsuite’, in Akai Tsut- 
suji (in unnumbered pages in prologue). 

9 For a record of the marriage, see copies of the Kaneko entries in the 
Register of Families in Saiban Kiroku, p. 875. 

10 Mochizuki, loc. cit. 

11 For such advertisements, see copies of KokutdILa Nigra Ondo, no. 1, July 
1922; Futei Senjin, nas. 3 and 4, March and June 1923, in Saiban Kiroku, 
pp. 808, 841, 865. 

12 On various occasions from the mid-1930s Fuse was disbarred, prose- 
cuted and imprisoned for his radical legal activities. He died of cancer 
on 13 September 1953. See Fuse Kanji, Aru Bengoshi no Shogai: Fuse 
Tatsuji, Tokyo, Iwar ami Shoten, 1963, pp. 200 ff. 

13 Accounts of the exhumation by some present at it are included in Setouchi, 
p. 339. 

14 Richard Mitchell argues that it was usually lower-ranking police person- 
nel who mistreated prisoners, though against express orders. Cf. Elise 
Tipton, The Japanese Police State: The Tokko in Interwar Japan, London, 
Athlone Press, 1990, p. 31; Richard Mitchell, Thought Control in Prewar 



Notes 247 


Japan, Ithaca, New York, and London, Cornell University Press, 1976, 

p. 101. 

15 Kurihara Kazuo, ‘Hangyakusha Den: Kaneko Fumiko’, in Jiyu Rengd 
Shinbun, no. 39 (1 September 1929), reproduced in Akai Tsutsuji, p. 60. 

16 Cited in Setouchi, pp. 65-6 (date of interview not given but clearly more 
than forty years later). 

17 Fuse Tatsuji, Unmei no Shdrisha, Pak Yeol, Tokyo, Seiki Shobo, 1946, 
pp. 25-7. 

18 Cf. Setouchi, pp. 337-8; and Akai Tsutsuji, chronology of Fumiko’s life 
(unnumbered pages). The English sources referred to are: Hane, Reflections, 
pp. 79, 259, and ‘Introduction’, in Jean Inglis (trans.), Kaneko Fumiko: 
The Prison Memoirs of a Japanese Woman, New York and London, M. 
E. Sharpe, 1991, xv; also Richard Mitchell, Janus-Faced Justice: Political 
Criminals in Imperial Japan, Honolulu, University of Hawaii Press, 1992, 
p. 45. 

19 Kaneko, Akai Tsutsuji, p. 11. 

20 Cited in Setouchi, pp. 335-6. 

21 Kaneko, Tokyo District Court Preliminary Interrogation [hereafter ‘Court 
Interrogation’], no. 3 (22 January 1924), pp. 18-9. 

22 Kaneko, Court Interrogation, no. 7 (25 January 1924), p. 25. 

23 Cited in Setouchi, p. 329. The full statement, headed ‘26 February, Late 
in the Night’, in Fumiko’s own handwriting, is in Saiban Kiroku, 
pp. 739^18. 

24 Cited in Setouchi., p. 320 (in Saiban Kiroku, p. 348). 

25 See Kim II Song, Pak Yeol, Tokyo, G5d6 Shuppan, 1974, p. 171. 

26 Nietzsche and Max Stirner will be discussed in more detail in Chapter 5. 
Unlike Fumiko, Stirner did expound radical solipsism but, like her, he 
also spoke of ‘annihilating the world’: Max Stirner, The Ego and His 
Own, London, Jonathan Cape, 1971 (first published 1845), p. 204. 

27 Kaneko, Court Interrogation, no. 2 (17 January 1924), p. 15. 

28 Ibid., no. 3 (22 January 1924), pp. 17-18. 

29 Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1968, pp. 129 ff.; 
Beyond Good and Evil, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1972, p. 64. 

30 See Michael Artzibashev, Sanine, London, Martin Seeker, 1928 (first pub- 
lished in 1914). 

31 Kaneko, Letter to Judge Tatematsu, in Saiban Kiroku, p. 107. 

32 On 7 July that year Tatematsu ruled that he did not have any jurisdiction 
over matters connected with Article 73 of the Criminal Code; and that it 
was therefore a matter for the Supreme Court. 

33 Artzibashev, p. 247. 

34 Cited in Setouchi, pp. 330-1; also in Morinaga Eisaburd, ‘Himerareta 
Saiban: Pak Yeol, Kaneko Fumiko Jiken, 1-2’, Horitsu Jiho, vol. 35, nos 
3 4 (March and April 1963), Part I, p. 63. There is disagreement about 
when this untitled and undated statement was made, but Fuse recalled 
that Fumiko wrote a statement during the preliminaries of the high treason 
trial (at the end of 1 925) for Judge Itakura (who was not appointed to the case 
until October). Fuse said that this very long statement was written in forty 
minutes. It appears in Fumiko’s (barely legible) handwriting in the Trial 
Records amongst other records dated the end of October and beginning 



248 Notes 


of November. Cf. Fuse, pp. 250-1; Kaneko, Untitled and Undated State- 
ment, in Saiban Kitoku, pp. 581-9 (this passage, pp. 588-9). 

35 Kaneko, Supreme Court Preliminary Interrogation Record, no. 1, cited in 
Morinaga, loc. cit. [ilso in Saiban Kiroku, dated 17 November 1925, p. 575.] 

36 Kaneko, Supreme Court Interrogation Record, no. 1, cited in ibid, [also in 
Saiban Kiroku, dated 26 February 1926, p. 685.] 

37 Stirner, ‘My Self-Enjoyment’ (contrasting the enjoyment of life with the 
desire/hope for its preservation) in Ego, pp. 224 ff. 

38 Kaneko, Court Interrogation Record, no. 12 (14 May 1924), p. 62. 

39 Kaneko, ‘Untitled Statement’, cited in Morinaga, loc. cit. 

40 See, for example, Hitne’s Reflections of the Way to the Gallows, p. 75, 119ff.; 
Mitchell, Janus-faced Justice, p. 44. 

41 Kaneko, Akai Tsutsuji, p. 26. 

42 Kaneko, Nani ga V/atashi o Kosaseta ka, Tokyo, Chikuma Shobo, 1984, 
p. 205. Hereafter, references to these memoirs will simply give the surname 
and page number/s. 

43 Kaneko, Akai Tsutsuji, pp. 25-6. 

44 Ibid. 

45 Kaneko, pp. 83^1. 

46 Ibid., pp. 84-5. 

47 Kaneko, Akai Tsutsuji, p. 12. 

48 Kaneko, pp. 177-8. On non-registration in Japan today, see Sato Bunmei, 
Koseki ga Tsukuru Sabetsu, Tokyo, Gendai Shokan, 1984, pp. 147 ff. 

49 Kaneko, Akai Tsutiuji, p. 33. 

50 On the massacre see C. Lee and G. De Vos, Koreans in Japan: Ethnic Con- 
flict and Accommoaation, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1981, 
pp. 21 ff.; and Richard Mitchell, The Korean Minority in Japan, Berkeley, 
University of California Press, 1967, pp. 38^11. 

51 Kaneko, Akai Tsutsuji, p. 38. 

52 Kaneko, p. 178. 

53 Kaneko, Court Interrogation, no. 4 (23 January 1924), p. 20. 

54 Kaneko, p. 196. 

55 Kaneko, Court Interrogation, no. 2 (22 January 1924), p. 17. 

56 Kaneko, Court Interrogation, no. 4 (23 January 1924), p. 20. 

57 Kaneko, p. 196. 

58 Ibid., pp. 201-2. 

59 Cited in Fuse, pp. 253—4. 

60 Stirner, pp. 209, 21", 229, 198-9. 

61 See Kaneko, Court Interrogation, no. 4 (23 January 1924), p. 20. 

62 Cf. Setouchi, p. 324; also Setouchi, ‘Kaneko Fumiko’, in Setouchi (ed.), 
Jinbutsu Kindai Jostishi, Onna no Issho, 6, Hangyaku no Onna no Roman, 
Tokyo, Kodansha, 1981, p. 144; Kim, p. 214; and Kaneko, Akai Tsutsuji, 
p. 25. 

63 Kaneko, p. 205. 

64 Setouchi, Yohaku no Haru, pp. 337-8. 

65 Kaneko, Akai Tsutsuji, p. 9. 

66 Ibid., p. 17. 

67 Ibid., p. 22. 

68 Ibid., p. 25. 

69 Ibid., p. 33. 



Notes 249 


5 COMMENTARY: DISCOURSE ON DEATH AND BEYOND 

1 Robert J. Lifton, Kato Shuichi and Michael R. Reich, Six Lives, Six 
Deaths: Portraits from Modern Japan, New Haven, Connecticut, and 
London, Yale University Press, 1979. 

2 Philippe Aries, Western Attitudes Toward Death, Baltimore, Maryland, 
and London, John Hopkins University Press, 1974, pp. 90-3. 

3 Philippe Aries, The Hour of Our Death, New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1981, 
pp. 605 ff. 

4 Lifton et al., p. 285. 

5 Cf. Chan Wing-Tsit, The Spirit of Oriental Philosophy’, in Charles A. 
Moore (ed.), Philosophy East and West, Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton 
University Press, 1944, pp. 147 ff.; Lee J ung Young, Death and Beyond in 
the Eastern Perspective: A Study Based on the Bardo Thodol and the 
I Ching, New York, Interface, 1974; P.T. Raju, ‘Foreword’, in Frederick 
H. Hoick (ed.), Death and Eastern Thought: Understanding Death in 
Eastern Religions and Philosophies, Nashville, Tennesse, and New York, 
Abingdon Press, 1974; and P.J. Sahet, Eastern Wisdom and Western 
Thought: A Comparative Study in the Modern Philosophy of Religion, 
London, Allen and Unwin, 1969, pp. 241-5. 

6 For example, Carl Gustav Jung, ‘Psychological Commentary on “The 
Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation’”, in The Collected Works of C. G. 
Jung, II: Psychology and Religion, East and West, Princeton, New Jersey, 
Princeton University Press, 1969, p. 481. 

7 Cf. Nakamura Hajime, Ways of Thinking of Eastern Peoples: India, China, 
Tibet, Japan, East-West Center Press, 1964, pp. 361 ff.; Lifton et al., 
pp. 22 ff, 284-5; Joseph J. Spae, ‘Recent National Trends’, in Spae (ed.), 
Japanese Religiosity, Tokyo, Oriens Institute for Religious Research, 1971, 
p. 227. 

8 On the doctrine of akunin shoki, see Jan Van Bragt, ‘Nishitani on Japanese 
Religiosity’, in Spae (ed.), ibid, p. 277; and Nakamura, ibid, p. 386. 

9 William R. LaFleur, The Karma of Words: Buddhism and the Literary Arts 
in Medieval Japan, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1983, pp. 26- 
59. 

10 On uneasy spirits, see Hori Ichiro, Folk Religion in Japan: Continuity and 
Change, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1968, pp. 32, 85. 

1 1 Shimizu Unosuke, ‘Kanno Sugako Shoden’ [Biography], in Shimizu Uno- 
suke (ed.), Kanno Sugako Zenshu, III, Tokyo, Koryusha, 1984, pp. 299-301 . 

12 On the Kyofukai see Sharon Sievers, Flowers in Salt: The Beginnings of 
Feminist Consciousness in Modern Japan, Stanford, California, Stanford 
University Press, 1983 (Chapter 5), pp. 87-113. 

13 Helen Hardacre, Kurozumikyd and the New Religions of Japan, Princeton, 
New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 1986, p. 4. 

14 H. Byron Earhart (ed.). Religion in the Japanese Experience: Sources and 
Interpretations, Belmont, California, Dickenson Publishing, 1974, pp. 251, 
131. 

15 Murakami Shigeyoshi, Japanese Religion in the Modern Century, Tokyo, 
University of Tokyo Press, 1980, p. 12. 

16 Ibid., p. 15. 



250 Notes 


17 Cited in Irokawa Diikichi, The Culture of the Meiji Period, Princeton, New 
Jersey, Princeton University Press, 1985, p. 193. 

18 Jay Rubin, Injurious to Public Morals: Writers and the Meiji State, Seattle 
and London, University of Washington Press, 1984, p. 161. On this 
tendency amongst Buddhist socialists in the 1930s, see Notto R. Thelle, 
Buddhism and Christianity in Japan: From Conflict to Dialogue, 1854- 
1899, Honolulu, University of Hawaii Press, 1987, p. 253. 

19 Hardacre, p. 7; cf. Murakami, pp. 45, 70. 

20 On the close affinities between Pure Land Buddhism and Christianity, 
cf. Spae, pp. 209-30, and Ninian Smart, ‘Western Society and Buddhism’, 
Journal of Oriental Studies, vol. 2 (1989), p. 45. 

21 Murakami, pp. 14-5. 

22 The Doctrine of Tenrikyo, Nara, Japan, Tenrikyo Church Headquarters, 

1954, pp. 21 ff. ' 

23 Cited in John Crump, The Origins of Socialist Thought in Japan, London 
and Canberra, Croom Helm, 1983, p. 310. 

24 Janet A. Walker, 7 he Japanese Novel of the Meiji Period and the Ideal of 
Individualism, Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 1979, 
p. 63. 

25 Carmen Blacker, The Japanese Enlightenment: A Study of the Writings 
of Fukuzawa Yukichi, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1964, 
p. 58. 

26 Thelle, pp. 196-8. 

27 Ihara Saikaku, Tales of Samurai Honor (Caryl Ann Callahan, trans.), 
Tokyo, Monumenta Nipponica (Sophia University), 1981, pp. 73-4. 

28 Crump, p. 293. On Meiji Christianity and Christian socialism, see Irwin 
Scheiner, Christian Converts and Social Protest in Meiji Japan, Berkeley, 
University of California Press, 1970. 

29 [Kanno] ‘Yuzuki’, ‘Misohitomoji no Ongakkai Kenmonki’ [first published 
in Muro Shinpo, no. 577, 6 April 1906], in Zenshu, II, pp. 105—6. 

30 Kaneko, Nani ga Watashi o Kosaseta ka, Tokyo, Chikuma Shobo, 1984, 
pp. 157 ff., 167 (subsequently, only the name and page number/s will be 
cited for Fumiko’s memoirs). 

31 See Sait5 Otomatsu, ‘Witness Interrogation Record’ (19 August 1925), in 
Kaneko Fumiko, Pak Yeol Saiban Kiroku, Tokyo, Kokushoku Sensensha, 
1977, p. 245. 

32 Arahata Kanson’s suggestion that Suga drew close to Christianity out of a 
moral abhorrence for her own ‘promiscuity’ will be discussed in Part 2. 

33 Maruyama Masao, Studies in the Intellectual History of Tokugawa Japan, 
Tokyo, University of Tokyo Press, 1974, p. 263. 

34 See Gino K. Piovesana, Recent Japanese Philosophical Thought, 1862- 
1962: A Survey, To xyo, Enderle Bookstore, 1963, pp. 25-6. 

35 Blacker, pp. 58-9. 

36 Jean-Pierre Lehmar n, The Roots of Modern Japan, London, Macmillan, 
1982, pp. 250, 257. 

37 Earl H. Kinmonth, The Self-Made Man in Meiji Japanese Thought: from 
Samurai to Salary Man, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1981, 
pp. 100, 111 ff. 

38 Piovesana, p. 251. 

39 Kinmonth, p. 338. 



Notes 25 1 


40 Lewis A. Coser, Masters of Sociological Thought: Ideas in Historical and 
Social Context, New York, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1977, p. 100. 

41 Kanno, ‘ Shide no Michikusa [Diary] (23 January 1911), in Zenshu, II, 

p. 266. 

42 Kinmonth, p. 244. 

43 Jacques Choron, Death and Western Thought, New York and London, 
Collier-Macmillan, 1963, pp. 209-10. 

44 Lucio Colletti, Marxism and Hegel, London, New Left Books, 1973, p. 27. 
Re Hegel’s approach to death, see James P. Carse, Death and Existence: 
A Conceptual History of Human Mortality, New York, John Wiley and 
Sons, 1980, pp. 352 ff. 

45 If Fumiko knew of the ‘Oriental’ Hegelian dialectic, she did not seem 
to share the interest in it of Japanese philosophers like Nishida Kitaro, 
founder of the Kyoto School of philosophy, on which see Piovesana, 
pp. 112-14, 195-6. 

46 Interpretations of Nietzsche’s ‘will to power’ differ. Guy Welbon argues 
that Nietzsche may have been more authentic a Buddhist than Schopen- 
hauer because of his definition of nirvana as a quest for power - not 
power over this world but rather a cosmic power. Ofelia Schutte points 
to various ways in which the ‘will to power’ can be interpreted, but does 
not refute views of it as oppressive, worldly domination. Schutte, Beyond 
Nihilism: Nietzsche Without Masks, Chicago, University of Chicago 
Press, 1984 (Chapter 4, ‘The Will to Power as Metaphor’), pp. 76-104; 
Welbon, The Buddhist Nirvana and its Western Interpreters, Chicago, Uni- 
versity of Chicago Press, 1968, pp. 188 ff. 

47 See Piovesana, pp. 60-2. 

48 Kinmonth, p. 238 

49 Piovesana, pp. 70-3. 

50 Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1968, 
pp. 88-9. 

51 Cited in Choron, p. 204. 

52 See Kaneko, Untitled Statement in Saiban Kiroku, pp. 588-9. 

53 For discussion of Schopenhauer’s ‘pessimism’, cf. Bertrand Russell, A His- 
tory of Western Philosophy, London, Allen and Unwin, 1979, pp. 726-7, 
and Choron, pp. 162, 185; re Schope:nhauer on egoism, Choron, p. 180. 
Concerning Schopenhauer’s influence upon Japanese philosophy: Piove- 
sana, pp. 36, 50-1, 75. Also, on the influence of Buddhist notions like 
ego-annihilation on Schopenhauer, see Welbon, pp. 156-7; and on Zen’s 
double negation, Abe Masao, Zen and Western Thought, William R. 
LaFleur, ed., Honolulu, University of Hawaii Press, 1985, p. 127. 

54 Kinmonth, pp. 210 ff. 

55 Nancy Andrew, ‘The Seitosha: An Early Japanese Women’s Organization, 
1911-1916’, (Harvard East Asian Research Center) Papers on Japan, 
(1972), pp. 51-2, 63. 

56 Kinmonth, p. 236. 

57 On authority, idealism and optimism about the future, her special task in 
life, and worldly success, see Kaneko, pp. 194-6. 

58 Thomas A. Stanley, Osugi Sakae, Anarchist in Taishd Japan: The Creativity 
of the Ego, Boston, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press, p. 62;_and 
on intellectual leadership of the masses, Osawa Masamichi (ed.), Osugi 



252 Notes 


Sakae Zenshu, VI, Rodo Undo Ronshu, Tokyo, Gendai Shicho, 1963, 
pp. 112 ff. 

59 Stanley, loc. cit. 

60 Takeuchi Seiichi, Jiko Choetsu no Shiso: Kindai Nihon no Nihirizumu, 
Tokyo, Perikansha, 1988, pp. 3-4. 

61 Max Stirner, The Ego and His Own, John Carrol, ed., London, Jonathan 
Cape, 1971, pp. 226-7 . 

62 Ibid., pp. 223, 50-3. 

63 For Stirner on ‘Man’ and the ‘Unique One’, see ibid., pp. 259-61. Re this 
humanist subject of history, Foucault’s debt to Nietzsche is well known, 
but partly because of Stirner’s attack on humanism and essentialism, 
poststructuralist theorists recently have also ‘resurrected’ him. See, for 
example, Jacques Derrida, Specters of Marx, New York and London, 
Routledge, 1994. 

64 Paterson argues that Stirner was more a forebear of existentialism than 
anarchism because existentialists, like Stirner, diagnosed the ‘nothingness’ 
of life. Stirner’s, however, was a positive nothingness; it was not a terrifying 
(existentialist) ‘emptiness’. Cf. R. W. K. Paterson, The Nihilistic Egoist: 
Max Stirner, London, Oxford University Press, 1971 (Chapters VI and 
VIII). Also, on existentialist views on life and death, Choron, pp. 222-3. 

65 Ito Noe wrote a short piece about the novel about one year after separating 
from her second husband, Tsuji Jun, who translated Stirner’s book. Ito’s 
article was about the sort of hero she respected, and Sanine headed the 
list for his cool detachment from conventional morality, his independent 
attitude toward doing just as he liked, his lack of affectation, and also 
his ‘manly indifference’ toward the death of a ‘young idealist’. Ito Noe, 
‘Sanin no Taido’, in ltd Noe Zenshu, vol. 2, pp. 301-4. 

66 Ibid., p. 302. 

67 Human ugliness, instinctual desires, animalism, and a fascination with 
death had been common themes in Japanese naturalism in late Meiji. 
Rubin remarks on official views of such pessimistic ‘harmful influences’ 
on Japanese literature and society. See Rubin, pp. 63, 99 ff. 

68 Michael Artzibashev, Sanine, London, Martin Seeker, 1928, p. 180. 

69 Ibid., p. 247. 

70 Ibid., pp. 45-7. 

71 Ibid., pp. 9, 127, 315. 

72 Ibid., p. 194. 

73 Ibid., pp. 46-7, 68, 118 ff. 

74 Ibid., pp. 47, 68, 246, 289. 

75 Ibid., p. 314. 

76 Ibid., p. 156. 

77 Nishitani Keiji (Religion and Nothingness, Berkeley, University of Cali- 
fornia Press, 1982) was interested in parallels between Stirner’s ‘creative 
nothingness’ and Buddhist nihilism. Bergsonianism in Japan will be dis- 
cussed in the next chapter. 

78 On ‘being-sfve-nothingness’ in Zen, ibid., p. 72; Abe, pp. 126-7. 

79 Kaneko, pp. 105 ff. The family religion on the maternal side was probably 
True Pure Land Buddhism, however. See Kaneko Sehi (Fumiko’s grand- 
mother), Witness Interrogation Record (13 August 1925), in Saiban 
Kiroku, p. 239. 



Notes 253 


80 Lifton et al., pp. 22-5, 28. 

81 Ibid., pp. 284T>. For Nishitani Keiji too Buddhist pessimism, (other- 
worldliness and world-negation) was alien to the Japanese: Jan Van 
Bragt, Translator’s Introduction’, in Nishitani, xxxvi. 

82 See Lifton et at., pp. 8-9. Confucianism is said to be a philosophical expres- 
sion of the biological, familial or ancestral mode. 

83 The items Suga wanted left to friends c,re listed in Kanno, Letter to Sakai 
Toshihiko (24 January 1911), in Zenshu, III, pp. 190-91. Magara, the 
daughter of Sakai Toshihiko, wrote some fifty years after the event of a 
formal silk haori left her by Suga, which she used to wear in the early 
1920s when at times she herself wa.s in the same prison. See Sakai 
Magara cited in Hane Mikiso, Reflections on the Way to the Gallows: 
Rebel Women in Prewar Japan, New York, Pantheon, 1988, pp. 128-9. 

84 Lifton et al., p. 22. 

85 The same could probably be said of the murders of Osugi Sakae and Ito Noe, 
who had been ostracized after the famous love quadrangle-’free love’ scan- 
dal of 1916. On socialist criticisms of their ‘free love’, see Akiyama Kiyoshi, 
‘Sei to Jiyu ni tsuite’, Shiso no Kagaku, no. 123 (November 1971), pp. 26-34. 

86 Kaneko, p. 6. 

87 Lifton et al., pp. 11-12. 

88 Re European Romanticism, for example, Shelley on death as ‘oneness with 
Nature’ - see Choron, pp. 156-61. It is interesting that Japanese ‘eco- 
nationalists’ of late have represented Japan’s environmental crisis as the 
result of Western influence, since the Japanese have apparently always 
had a specially harmonious relationship with Nature. See Tessa Morris- 
Suzuki, ‘Concepts of Nature and Technology in Pre-Industrial Japan’, 
East Asian History, vol. 1 (June 1991). pp. 81-2. 

89 Kaneko, pp. 32 ff. Deguchi Nao, founder of the new religion, Omotokyo, 
had also seen the cities as exploitative o::'the villages: see Murakami, pp. 70- 
5, and Hardacre, p. 7. 

90 Kaneko, pp. 75-6. 

91 See William R. LaFleur, ‘Japan’ (Chapter VII), in Hoick (ed.), pp. 242 ff. 

92 LaFleur (ibid., p. 232) refers to a well-known poem by the twelfth-century 
poet-monk, Saigyo, also about transience and death symbolized by the cry 
of a cricket. 

93 Kaneko Fumiko, Akai Tsutsuji no Hana: Kaneko Fumiko no Omoide to 
Kashu, Tokyo, Kokushoku Sensensha, 1984, pp. 20, 19. 

94 In Japan the raven has been a symbol of poignancy, loneliness, sorrow or 
death, as in some of Basho’s poems: Yuasa Nobuyuki (trans.), Basho: The 
Narrow Road to the Deep North, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1966, pp. 26, 58. 

95 Lifton et al., p. 27. 

96 Greg Dening, The Bounty: An Ethnographic History, Melbourne, Univer- 
sity of Melbourne Monograph Series, 1988, p. 98. 


6 COMMENTARY: MARTYRS, NIHILISTS AND OTHER 
REBEL HEROES 

1 This calls to mind the words of Lord Cromer, once colonial governor of 
Egypt, for whom Egyptian nationalism was a ‘novel idea ... a plant of 



254 Notes 


exotic rather than of indigenous growth’. (Cited in Edward W. Said, 
Orientalism, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1978, p. 39.) As Said observes, 
his belief that it was an ‘unnatural implant’ was based on his view of 
‘Orientals’ as ‘feudal', unprogressive, childlike and dependent. 

2 In syndicalism elsewhere ‘direct action’ had meant direct economic (i.e., not 
‘political’/parliamentary) action like strikes, industrial sabotage or the 
General Strike. On ‘direct action’ in Japan, see John Crump, The Origins 
of Socialist Thought in Japan, London and Canberra, Croom Helm, 
1983, pp. 164-7. 

3 On Bergsonianism in Japan, see Gino K. Piovesana, Recent Japanese 
Philosophical Thought, 1862-1962: A Survey, Tokyo, Enderle Bookstore, 
1963, pp. 74-5, 197 f’ 

4 Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy, London, Allen and 
Unwin, 1979, p. 756. 

5 Matsumoto Sannosuke, ‘The Idea of Heaven: A Tokugawa Foundation 
for Natural Rights Theory’, in Najita Tetsuo and Irwin Scheiner (eds), 
Japanese Thought in the Tokugawa Period, 1600-1868: Methods and Meta- 
phors, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1978, p. 181. 

6 Cf. Clifford Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures, New York, Basic 
Books, pp. 3 ff.; Greg Dening, The Bounty: An Ethnographic History, 
Melbourne, University of Melbourne Monograph Series, 1988, pp. 93-111. 

7 Inga Clendinnen, Ambivalent Conquests: Maya and Spaniard in Yucatan, 
1517-1570, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987, pp. 131 ff. 

8 For extracts from these magazines, see Kotoku Shusui Zenshu Iinkai (ed.), 
Taigyaku Jiken Arubamu: Kotoku Shusui to sono Shuhen, Tokyo, Meiji 
Bunken, 1972, pp. 105-9. 

9 Stefano Bellieni, Nott s on the History of the Left-wing Movement in Meiji 
Japan, Napoli, Istituto Orientale de Napoli, 1979, pp. 20-2. 

10 Cf. Arahata cited in Crump, p. 308; Voline, The Unknown Revolution, 
1917-1921, New York, Free Life Editions, 1974, pp. 103 ff. 

1 1 Ivan Morris, The Nobility of Failure: Tragic Heroes in the History of Japan, 
Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1975, xxi-xxiii, p. 177. 

12 Thomas Huber, ‘ “Men of High Purpose” and the Politics of Direct Action, 
1862-1864’, in Najita Tetsuo and J. Victor Koschmann (eds), Conflict in 
Modern Japanese History: The Neglected Tradition, Princeton, New 
Jersey, Princeton University Press, 1982, p. 124. 

13 Ian Buruma, A Japanese Mirror: Heroes and Villains of Japanese Culture, 
Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1985, p. 189. 

14 Ibid., p. 137. 

15 Albert M. Craig, Choshu in the Meiji Restoration, Boston, Massachusetts, 
Harvard University Press, 1961, p. 150. 

16 On the reasons for Zen’s popularity with samurai, see Suzuki Daisetz, Zen 
and Japanese Culture, New York, Pantheon, 1959, pp. 61 ff. Suzuki’s own, 
rather romanticized axount of the Zen-samurai nexus often reveals how 
violence might come to be justified secularly despite teachings of avoidance 
of it. 

17 See, for example, Michael Polyani and Harry Prosch, Meaning, Chicago, 
University of Chicago Press, 1975, pp. 15 ff. 

18 Dogen, ‘Benddwa’, cited in Abe Masao, Zen and Western Thought, William 
R. LaFleur (ed.), Honolulu, University of Hawaii Press 1985, p. 222. 



Notes 255 


19 Ibid., pp. 58-9. 

20 On selflessness and loyalty as central to the (singular) ‘way of the warrior’, 
see Robert Bellah, Tokugawa Religion: The Values of Pre-Industrial Japan, 
New York, Free Press, pp. 90-8. 

21 For a critique of anachronistic and esseritialist notions of Shushigaku neo- 
Confucianism as the sum total of ideology in Tokugawa, see Herman 
Ooms, Tokugawa Ideology: Early Constructs, 1570-1680, Princeton, New 
Jersey, Princeton University Press, 1985 

22 Morris, xxi. 

23 See ibid., pp. 183, 215. 

24 Barbara Smith, Tt5 Noe, Living Love and Anarchy: “Free Love” in 
Taisho Japan’ (unpublished Honours Thesis, Centre for Asian Studies, 
University of Adelaide), 1991, pp. 37-8. 

25 There is much in Takeuchi Seiichi’s discussion of Japanese philosophical 
nihilism that suggests Fumiko’s ideas: Takeuchi, Jiko Choetsu no Shiso: 
Kindai Nihon no Nihirizumu, Tokyo, Perikansha, 1988, pp. 2-3. 

26 See E. H. Norman, ‘The Restoration’, in John Dower (ed.), Origins of the 
Modern Japanese State ; Selected Writings of E. H. Norman, New York, 
Pantheon, 1975, pp. 191-2. 

27 Irokawa Daikichi, The Culture of the Meiji Period, Princeton, New Jersey, 
Princeton University Press, 1985, pp. 87-8, 133. 

28 Crump, p. 131. 

29 Ibid., p. 38; cf. Jay Rubin, Injurious to Public Morals: Writers and the Meiji 
State, Seattle and London, University of Washington Press, 1984, p. 39. 

30 Crump, pp. 212-14. 

31 Cited in ibid., p. 312. 

32 On conservative women’s organization:; from Meiji to 1945, see Sheldon 
Garon, ‘Women’s Groups and the Japanese State: Contending Approaches 
to Political Integration, 1890-1945’, Journal of Japanese Studies, vol. 19, 
no. 1 (Winter 1993), pp. 5^11. 

33 See Barbara Alpern Engel, Mothers and Daughters: Women of the Intelli- 
gentsia in Nineteenth Century Russia, Cambridge, Cambridge University 
Press, 1983, pp. 4-5. 

34 Kanno, Prison Declaration (3 June 1910), in Shimizu Unosuke (ed.), 
Kamo Sugako Zenshu, II, Tokyo, Koryusha, 1984, p. 203. 

35 Cited in Irokawa, p. 69. 

36 Marius B. Jansen, ‘The Meiji State: 1868-1912’, in J.B. Crowley (ed.), 
Modern East Asia: Essays in Interpretation, New York, Harcourt, Brace 
and World, 1970, p. 116; cf. Carol Gluck, Japan’s Modern Myths: Ideology 
in the Meiji Period, Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 
1985, pp. 272-3. 

37 See Robert J. Lifton, Kat5 Shuichi and Michael R. Reich, Six Lives, 
Six Deaths: Portraits from Modern Japan, New Haven, Connecticut, 
Yale University Press, 1979, pp. 155-91. 

38 Akiyama Kiyoshi, Nihiru to Teroru, Tokyo, Tairyusha, 1977, p. 252. 

39 Even in 1910 the literary critic, Uozumi Setsuro, had argued that natural- 
ism represented an historical alliance of scientific determinism and the ideal 
of individual freedom - ‘against a common enemy, authority’. (Cited in 
Arima Tatsuo, The Failure of Freedom: A Portrait of Modern Japanese 
Intellectuals, Boston, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press, 1969, 



256 Notes 


p. 80). Of course, a poet Fumiko particularly admired, Ishikawa Taku- 
boku, responded in his famous essay ‘Jidai Heisoku no Genjo’ that Japa- 
nese naturalists, for all their pretensions, had never really defied authority. 
Cf. Matsuda Michio, Gendai Nihon Shiso Taikei, 16: Anakizumu, Tokyo, 
Chikuma Shobo, 1063, pp. 45-6. 

40 Lifton et al., p. 23. 

41 On the mixed reac .ions of contemporaries to Nogi’s suicide, see Gluck, 
pp. 221-7. 

42 See William R. LaFleur, ‘Japan’, in Frederick H. Hoick (ed.), Death and 
Eastern Thought: Understanding Death in Eastern Religions and Phil- 
osophies, Nashville Tennessee and New York, Abingdon Press, 1974, 
pp. 248-9. 

43 Irokawa, pp. 116 ff 

44 Ibid., pp. 161, 254. Dn peasants creating themselves in the role of the ‘per- 
fect warrior’, see Anne Walthall, Social Conflict and Popular Culture in 
Eighteenth-century Japan, Tucson, Arizona, The University of Arizona 
Press, 1986, p. 203. 

45 Janet A. Walker, The Japanese Novel of the Meiji Period and the Ideal of 
Individualism, Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 1979, 

p_. 6. 

46 Osaka Heimin Shinimn (20 September 1907), cited in Crump, p. 310. 

47 Cited in Setouchi Harumi, Yohaku no Haru, Tokyo, Chuko Bunko, 1975, 
p. 320 (the original statement is in Kaneko Fumiko, Pak Yeol Saiban 
Kiroku, Kokushoku Sensensha, 1977, p. 348). 

48 See Kaneko, Preliminary Court Record, no. 2 (17 January 1924), in ibid., 
P- 13. 

49 Crump, loc. cit. 

50 The prewar Marxist, Kawakami Hajime, reported that he had once experi- 
enced this ‘Great Death’ while in the Pure Land sect. It confirmed his ideal 
of ‘absolute unselfishness’. See Lifton et al., pp. 170-1; also on the Great 
Death, Abe, pp. 165-6. 

51 LaFleur, ‘Japan’, pp. 243-4. 

52 Ibid. 

53 Norman, loc. cit. For an overview of incidents of political violence (from 
below) in Japan since early in the Meiji period, see Morikawa Tetsuro, 
Ansatsu Hyakunensbi, Tokyo, Tosho Shuppansha, 1973, pp. 14-81. 

54 Even if peasants were happy to appropriate some aspects of samurai 
action, violence directed at the persons of oppressors (rather than at 
their property) had not been so common in traditional peasant rebellion. 
See Stephen Vlastos, Peasant Protests and Uprisings in Tokugawa Japan, 
Berkeley, University of California Press, 1986, pp. 18-20. 

55 Lifton et al., p. 27. 

56 Irokawa Daikichi seems to ignore Japan’s long tradition of peasant rebel- 
lion when he argues that in late Tokugawa ordinary village people ‘under- 
went a spiritual revolution and . . . rejected traditional fatalism that led to 
an acceptance of one’s lot in life’. (Irokawa, pp. 180-1.) 

57 Joseph J. Spae, ‘The Religiosity of “Eschatological Attitudes’”, in Spae 
(ed.), Japanese Religiosity, Tokyo, Oriens Institute for Religious Research, 
1971, p. 120. 

58 Matsuda, pp. 56-7. 



Notes 257 


59 On Berkman and Vaillant, see Emma Goldman, ‘The Psychology of Poli- 
tical Violence’, in Alix Kates Shulman (ed.), Red Emma Speaks: An Emma 
Goldman Reader, New York, Schocken Books, 1972, pp. 267-71. 

60 Kim II Song, Pak Yeol, Tokyo, G5do Stiuppan, 1974, pp. 226-7. 

61 Wada Kyutaro was sentenced to life imprisonment, while Muraki Genjiro 
died in prison during the pretrial. Cf. Akiyama Kiyoshi, Waga Boryoku 
Kb, Tokyo, San’ichi Shobd, 1977, pp. 34^(7; and Eguchi Kan, Waga 
Bungaku Hansel Ki, II, Tokyo, Aoki Shoten, 1968. 

62 Irokawa, pp. 138, 168, 181. On the desire of some shishi to punish those 
who had ‘offended Heaven’, see Huber, p. 1 10. There are many suggestions 
of ‘tenbatsu' (visiting ‘heavenly’ punishment on the evil) also in Walthall’s 
account of Tokugawa peasant protests: cf. Walthall, pp. 173-204. 

63 David Plath, ‘Where the Family of God is the Family: The Role of the 
Dead in Japanese Households’, extract in H. Byron Earhart (ed.), Religion 
in the Japanese Experience: Sources and Interpretations, California, Dick- 
enson Publishing, 1974, pp. 149-54; and on the significance of ‘ urami ’ 
(resentment or a grudge) in classical language and culture, cf. Kuno 
Akira, ‘The Structure of “Urami”’, Nichibunken Japan Review (Inter- 
national Research Center for Japanese Studies), vol. 2 (1991), pp. 117-23. 

64 Hori Ichiro, Folk Religion in Japan: Continuity and Change, Chicago, 
University of Chicago Press, 1968, pp. 43, 117 ff. 

65 Kaneko Fumiko, Naniga Watashi o Kosaseta ka, Tokyo, Chikuma Shobo, 
1984, p. 85. 

66 See Kaneko, Court Interrogation no. 6 (25 January 1924), in Saiban 
Kiroku, p. 23. In this interrogation Judge Tatematsu asked Fumiko 
about the language she used - the pejorative terminology used by her 
group not only for the ‘Cabinet Ministers or high officials’ already men- 
tioned, but also for police, and the emperor and crown prince. 

67 Lifton et al., pp. 289, 279. 

68 See Nancy Andrew, ‘The Seitosha: An Early Japanese Women’s Organiz- 
ation, 1911-1916’, Papers on Japan (Harvard East Asian Research Center), 
1972, p. 52. On the double suicide of the leftist novelist, Arishima Takeo, 
and a journalist, Hatano Akiko, see Leith Morton, Divided Self: A Biog- 
raphy of Arishima Takeo, Sydney, Allen and Unwin, 1988 (Chapter 8, 
‘Freedom and Death’), pp. 179-211. 

69 Kanno, ‘Shide no Michikusa’ (20 January 1911), in Zenshu, II, p. 256. 

70 See Kanno, ‘Onna toshite no Kibo’ [first published in Muro Shinpb, 
no. 588, 9 May 1906], in ibid., pp. 143 -5. 

71 Lifton et al., p. 289. 

72 For such a treatment of (General Nogi’s) ‘survivor guilt’, see Lifton et al., 
‘The Emperor’s Samurai’, pp. 29-66. 

73 Ooms, p. 288. 


7 KANNO SUGA (1902-1911) 

1 Two authors who represent information supplied in Suga’s ‘semi- 
autobiographical’ works as factual are: Kondo Tomie, ‘Kanno Suga’, in 
Setouchi Harumi (ed.), Jinbutsu Kindai Joseishi, Onna no Issho, 6, Hang- 
yaku no Onna no Roman, Tokyo, KSdansha, 1981, pp. 27 ff.; and Sharon 



258 Notes 


Sievers, Flowers in Salt: The Beginnings of Feminist Consciousness in 
Modern Japan, Stanford, California, Stanford University Press, 1983 
(Chapter 7, ‘Kanntr Suga’), pp. 139-62. Others will be referred to below. 

2 Noriko Mizuta Lippit, Reality and Fiction in Modern Japanese Literature, 
New York and London, M. E. Sharpe, 1980, p. 18. 

3 Donald Keene, Modern Japanese Literature, New York, Grove Press, 
1956, pp. 23-6. 

4 Noriko Mizuta Lippit and Kyoko Iriye Selden (eds), Stories by Contem- 
porary Japanese Women Writers, New York and London, M. E. Sharpe, 
1982, ix-xvi. 

5 Victoria V. Vernon, Daughters of the Moon: Wish, Will and Social Con- 
straint in Fiction by Modern Japanese Women, Berkeley, University of 
California, Institute of East Asian Studies, 1988, p. 68. 

6 Shimizu Unosuke gives precise details about Suga’s family history 
(addresses, etc.), which are clearly derived from local official records. 
See Shimizu (ed.), Kanno Sugako Zenshu, 111, Tokyo, Koryusha, 1984, 
pp. 326-37. 

7 Kanno, First Criminal Investigation Record (3 June 1910), in ibid., p. 197. 

8 Kondo, p. 31. 

9 [Kanno] ‘Sugako’, ‘Omokage’ [first published in seven parts in Osaka 
Choho, nos. 23-40 31 July-9 September 1902], in Zenshu, II, Parts II- 
III, pp. 296-7. 

10 Kanno, Criminal Investigation Record, loc cit.; cf. Arahata Kanson, 
Kanson Jiden, Tokyo, Ronsosha, 1961, p. 126. 

1 1 [Kanno] ‘Sugako’, ‘Omokage’, Part I, in Zenshu, II, p. 292. 

12 Ibid., Part II, p. 255. 

13 Ibid., Part VII, p. 302. 

14 See [Kanno] ‘Sugako’, ‘Isshukan’ [first published in twenty-two parts in 
Osaka Choho, nos. 106-31, 29 November-28 December 1902], Part 17 
in Zenshu, I, pp. 195-6. 

15 Setouchi Harumi, Toi Koe, Tokyo, Shincho Bunko, 1975, p. 14; Itoya 
Toshio, Kanno Suga: Heiminsha no Fujin Kakumeika Zb, Tokyo, Iwanami 
Shinsho, 1970, pp. 16 ff., 31-2; Kondo, p. 32; Sievers, p. 142. 

16 Sievers (p. 221) urges caution about accepting Arahata as a reliable 
source, so possibly she was not aware that her information in this case 
(Itoya, ibid.) was based on Arahata’s account. 

17 Arahata, pp. 125-6. 

18 The references to Suga’s ‘promiscuity’ are left unquestioned by Kondo 
(pp. 34-5). The retson Arahata gave for Suga’s despair was that her 
patron would not permit her to marry. See Setouchi’s ‘Kanno Sugako: 
Koi to Kakumei ni Junjita Meiji no Onna (Bijoden Daikyuwa)’, Chub 
Koron, vol. 80, no. 9 (September 1965), p. 294, on how she had hoped 
to marry a journalist named ltd Kanezuki, but their engagement was 
opposed by Udagawa. 

19 Arahata, p. 176. 

20 On Suga’s easy seduction of the innocent Arahata, at least according to 
hisow/j account, se; Sievers, p. 221. 

21 Jay Rubin, Injurious to Public Morals: Writers and the Meiji State, Seattle 
and London, University of Washington Press, 1984, pp. 37-8. 



Notes 259 


22 On views of women in Buddhism, see Diana Paul, Women in Buddhism: 
Images of the Feminine in Mahayana Tradition, Berkeley, University of 
California Press, 1979. 

23 Cf. Kanno, Court Interrogation (3 Jure 1910), in Zenshu, III, p. 207; 
[Kanno] ‘Yuzuki’, ‘Tenjdkai [first published in Michi no Tomo, December 
1904- January 1905], in Zenshu, II, pp. 19-29; Shimizu Unosuke, ‘Kanno 
Sugako Shoden - ShSgai to Kodo’ [Biography], in Shimizu (ed.), Zenshu, 
III, p. 302. 

24 Sievers, p. 143. 

25 On this tendency amongst women in the Moral Reform Society, see 
Sievers, pp. 95-6. 

26 One representative article was [Kanno] ‘Yuzuki’, ‘Komatsumiya-denka 
no Goitoku’ [first published in Osaka Chohd, no. 160, 6 March 1903], 
in Zenshu, I, p. 263. 

27 Ibid., p. 265. 

28 See William Reynolds Braisted (trans. and ed.), Meiroku Zasshi: Journal 
of the Japanese Enlightenment, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard Uni- 
versity Press, 1976. 

29 See [Kanno] ‘Yuzuki-joshi’, ‘Hakurankai Kogoto’ [first published in eight 
parts in Osaka Chohd, nos. 164-71, 11- 20 March 1903], Parts V and VI, 
in Zenshu, I, pp. 282-5. 

30 On moralistic elitism in the early socialist movement, see Peter Duus and 
Irwin Scheiner, ‘Socialism, Liberalism, Marxism’, in Duus (ed.), The 
Cambridge History of Japan, Volume 6: The Twentieth Century, Cam- 
bridge, Cambridge University Press, 1988, pp. 663 ff, 672. 

31 Sievers, pp. 92-3. 

32 [Kanno] ‘Yuzuki’, ‘Shugyofu no Buto Kinshi no Undo’ [first published in 
Osaka Choho, no. 186, 8 April 1903], in Zenshu, I, p. 379. 

33 Itoya, p. 18. 

34 Ibid., pp. 29-30. 

35 [Kanno] ‘Sugako’, ‘Zekko’ [first published in Kirisutokyo Sekai, no. 1050, 
8 October 1903], in Zenshu, III, pp. 44 -50. 

36 Suga’s literary talent is an area of contention that can, in part, be traced 
back to Arahata’s negative assessment of her writings. Yet Shimizu con- 
curs with Kondo’s positive view of ‘Zekko’. For him it has a literary qual- 
ity that matches works by famous contemporaries like Yosano Akiko. 
Shimizu nevertheless describes Suga’s earliest efforts as only ‘competent’, 
or ‘immature’. On the other hand, her prison diary he judges a ‘master- 
piece’, a work with ‘serenity’ and without ‘affectation’. Cf. Kondo, 
pp. 34-5; Arahata cited in Sievers, p. 221; Itoya, p. 17; and Shimizu, 
Biography, pp. 299-300. 

37 On the style of the arguments against war of the Heiminsha, see John 
Crump, The Origins of Socialist Thought in Japan, London and Canberra, 
Croom Helm, 1983, pp. 44-51. 

38 [Kanno] ‘Yuzuki-joshi’, ‘Senso to Fujin’ [first published in Michi no 
Tomo, April 1904], in Zenshu, II, pp. 5-8. 

39 See Rubin (pp. 55-9) for references to Yosano’s ambivalence regarding 
nationalism. He discusses the jingoistic furore the poem caused, largely 
because she implied that if the emperor did not fight, then neither 
should her brother. 



260 Notes 


40 Kanno, ‘Senso to Fujin’, in Zenshu, II, p. 7. 

41 Kanno, ‘Zekko’, in Zenshu, III, pp. 47-8. 

42 Ibid., pp. 49-50. 

43 Letter in English tc American anarchist, Albert Johnson, cited in Crump, 
pp. 291-2. 

44 See Kanno, Criminal Investigation Record, loc. cit.; and for another 
example of the evil geisha-stepmother theme, [Kanno] ‘Sugako’, ‘Ritchi’ 
[first published in Michi no Tomo, May Issue, 1903], in Zenshu, III, 
pp. 5-15. ‘Ritchi’ was the name of a family pet, a dog whose death was 
caused by the cruel stepmother. 

45 [Kanno] ‘Yuzuki’, ‘Tsuyuko’ [first published serially in twenty-four parts 
in Muro Shinpb, ros. 529-75, 6 November 1905-30 March 1906], in 
ZenshQ, III, Parts III-IV, pp. 87, 90. 

46 Ibid., Parts III-IV, pp. 89-90. 

47 Ibid., Parts II-III, op. 84-5. 

48 Ibid., Parts XVIII-XIX, pp. 119-20. 

49 See Shimizu, Biography, p. 297 (Shimizu mentions the likelihood of 
Suga’s having been raped twice); and [Kanno] ‘Oitako’, ‘Kinenbi’ [first 
published in Osaka Choho, no. 22, 26 July 1902], in Zenshu, I, pp. 80-2. 

50 Both the second part of ‘Kinenbi’ and Part 23 of ‘Tsuyuko’ (which comes 
before the heroine is discovered unconscious) are noted in the Collected 
Works to be not extant and thus not included. One wonders if they fell 
victim to self -censo -ship by a concerned editor. 

51 Shimizu gives the family’s full address in Oita-ken (in 1895, Suga’s four- 
teenth year). Also, i t one article written in 1903, ‘Kanno Sugako’ wrote of 
a recent meeting with a woman she had known in Oita. See [Kanno] 
‘Sugako’, ‘Kogyo i-Cannai no Kigu’ (first published in Osaka Choho, 
no. 162, 8 March 1903), in Zenshu, I, pp. 267-9. 

52 Arahata, p. 126. 

53 Itoya, p. 11; Kondc , p. 28. 

54 Cf- Arahata, loc. cit.; Setouchi, ‘Koi to Kakumei’, p. 295; Kondo, pp. 28-9. 

55 Kanno Suga, Diary (21 January 1911), in Zenshu, II, p. 257. 

56 Itoya, loc. cit. 

57 Shimizu, Biography, p. 301; Kanno, Second Court Interrogation (5 June 
1911), in Zenshu, III, p. 222. 

58 Cited in Hane, Reflections, p. 53. The extract is from ‘Fude no Shizuku’ 
[first published in Muro Shinpb, no. 535 (24 November 1905)], in 
Zenshu, II, pp. 38^0. 

59 Shimizu, Biography, p. 303. 

60 Itoya, p. 52. 

61 Shimizu, loc. cit. 

62 Itoya, p. 60. 

63 Shimizu, Biography, p. 302. 

64 On ‘ ryosai kenbo', see Kumiko Fujimura-Fanselow, ‘The Japanese Ideol- 
ogy of “Good Wb'es and Wise Mothers”: Trends in Contemporary 
Research’, Gender end History, vol. 3, no. 3 (Autumn 1991), pp. 345- 
50. As early as 1875 Meirokusha liberals had argued for equal access to 
education for women largely because if mothers could be made pure 
the nation would be pure. See Nakamura Masanao, ‘Creating Good 
Mothers’, in Braisted (trans.), Meiroku Zasshi, pp. 401-4. 



Notes 26 1 


65 Shimizu, loc. cit. 

66 [Kanno] ‘Yuzuki’, ‘Yonin no Hahaue’ [first published in Muro Shinpo, no. 
576, 3 April 1906], in Zenshu, II, pp. 100-2. 

67 Itoya, p. 64. 

68 Sievers, p. 144. 

69 Kanno, ‘Yonin no Hahaue’, p. 101. 

70 Cf. [Kanno] ‘Yuzukijo’, ‘Kata Kanroku’ [first published in Muro Shinpo, 
no. 581, 18 April 1906]; and ‘Rojoki’ [first published in Muro Shinpo, no. 
584, 27 April 1906], in Zenshu, II, pp. 1 19-20, p. 136. 

71 [Kanno] ‘Yuzukijo’, ‘Onna toshite no Kibo’ [first published in Muro 
Shinpo, no. 588, 9 May 1906], in ibid., pp. 143-5. 

72 [Kanno] ‘Yuzuki’, ‘Misohitomoji no Ongakkai Kenmonki’ [first pub- 
lished in Muro Shinpo, no. 577, 6 April 1906], in ibid., pp. 105-6. 

73 Ibid., p. 106. 

74 For example, in Kanno, ‘Rojoki’, p. 137. 

75 [Kanno] ‘Yuzukijo’, ‘Kenka no Joshi ni Gekisu’ [first published in Muro 
Shinpo, no. 566, 3 March 1906], in Zenshu, II, pp. 69-71. On the wide- 
spread practice then of selling young girls into prostitution, see Hane 
Mikiso, Peasants, Rebels, and Outcastes: The Underside of Modern 
Japan, New York, Pantheon, 1982, pp. 172-225. 

76 Kanno, ibid., p. 69. 

77 On the system of post-publication censorship, see Richard Mitchell, 
Censorship in Imperial Japan, Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University 
Press, 1983, pp. 136, 148 tf. 

78 Kanno [‘Yuzukijo’], ‘Hiji Deppo’, cited in Sievers, p. 149. 

79 Ibid. 

80 Cf. [Kanno] ‘Sugako’, ‘Kanson-kun o Okuru’ [first published in Muro 
Shinpo, no. 581, 18 April 1906] in Zenshu, II, p. 118; also Kanno, ‘Kata 
Kanroku’, p. 1 19. 

81 See Kondo, p. 37; [Kanno] ‘Yuzuki’, Kanson-kun ni’ [first published in 
Muro Shinpo, no. 579], in Zenshu, II, p. 110; also Kanno, ‘Kanson-kun 
o Okuru’. 

82 See [Kanno] ‘Yuzukijo’, ‘Sokumenkan ni tsuite’ [first published in Muro 
Shinpo, no. 589, 12 May 1906], in Zenshu, II, p. 146; cf Itoya, p. 72^1. 

83 See Mdri’s postscript to Kanno, ‘Onna toshite no Kibo’, p. 145. 

84 Arahata, pp. 126-7. 

85 See Sievers, pp. 52-3, 127. 

86 [Kanno] ‘Yuzuki’, ‘Danshi Sokumenkan’ [first published in Muro Shinpo, 
no. 587, 6 May 1906], in Zenshu, II, pp. 139^11. 

87 Kanno, ‘“Sokumenkan” ni tsuite’, pp. 145-7. 

88 Kanno, Second Court Interrogation (5 June 1910), in Zenshu, III, pp. 223. 

89 ‘Kanno Yuzukijo’, ‘Waga Ningyo’ [first published in Yomiuri Shinbun, 9 
September 1906], in Zenshu, II, pp. 165-7. 

90 [Kanno] ‘Yuzuki’, ‘Toshi no Hajime ni’ [first published in Muro Shinpo, 
no. 664, 1 January 1907], in ibid., pp. 173^1. 

91 Kenneth Strong, Ox Against the Storm. A Biography of Tanaka Shozo: 
Japan’s First Conservationist Pioneer , British Columbia, University of 
British Columbia Press, 1977 (Chapters 10-12). 

92 For a translation of this essay, see Crump pp. 341-51. 



262 Notes 


93 On the frustrations of Heiminsha women with socialist men, see Sievers, 
pp. 1 14-38. 

94 Ibid., pp. 131-2. 

95 Ibid., pp. 129-30. 

96 Kondo, p. 40; Itoyi, p. 95. 

97 See [Kanno] ‘Sugako’, ‘Aa, Imoto’ [first published in Mainichi Denpd, 
15 July 1907], in Zenshu, II, p. 206. 

98 ‘Kanno Sugako’, ‘Joshu to Joko’ [first published in Mainichi Denpd, 
no. 1139, 4 January 1907], in ibid., pp. 179-82. 

99 On the textile mills see E. Patricia Tsurumi, Factory Girls: Women in the 
Thread Mills of Meiji Japan, Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University 
Press, 1990. 

100 Kanno Sugako’, ‘Riso no Fujin’ [first published in Kan'i Seikatsu, no. 3, 
1 January 1907], in Zenshu, II, pp. 175—8. 

101 See Vera Broido, Apostles into Terrorists: Women and the Revolutionary 
Movement in the Russia of Alexander II, London, Maurice Temple 
Smith, 1977, pp. 18, 62. 

102 [Unsigned], ‘Yajima-toji to Yanaka Mura’ [first published in Mainichi 
Denpd, no. 1329, 13 July 1907], in Zenshu, II, pp. 205-6. 

103 Hane, Reflections, pp. 32 ff. 

104 See [Kanno] ‘Yujo’, ‘Shokutaku Kien no Hana’ [first published in 
Mainichi Denpd, no. 1328, 12 July 1907], in Zenshu, II, pp. 203-4. 

105 [Kanno] ‘Yuzuki’, Sugamo no Ichi Yoru’ [first published in two parts 
in Mainichi Denpd, nos. 1457 and 1463, 18 and 24 November 1907], in 
Zenshu, II, p. 207. 

106 Ibid., p. 208. 

107 Ibid., p. 209. 

108 For accounts of Suga’s involvement in the Red Flag Incident see Kondo, 
pp. 42-3; and Shimzu, Biography, p. 309. 

109 Kondo, p. 44; Sievers, pp. 154 ff. 

110 Kanno, Prison Dec aration, no. 2 (3 June 1910), in Zenshu, III, p. 198; 
cf- Court Interrogation (of same date), p. 209. 

111 Cf. Itoya, p. 137; Shimizu, Biography, p. 310. 

112 Itoya, p. 138. 

113 See Kanno, Prison Declaration, no. 1(2 June 1910), in Zenshu, III, p. 199. 

114 Ishikawa Sanshiro went to jail early in 1910 in connection with Sekai 
Fujin. See Osawa Masamichi, ‘Ishikawa Sanshiro Ron’, in Tsurumi 
Shunsuke (ed.), Ishikawa Sanshiro Shu, Tokyo, Chikuma Shobo, 1976, 
p. 427. 

115 See Notehelfer, pp. 174-5. 

116 [Kanno] ‘Yuzuki’, ‘Toraware no Ki’ [first published in Jiyu Shiso, no. 2, 
10 June 1909], in Zenshu, II, pp. 238^11. 

117 Ibid., p. 239. 

118 Ibid. 

119 Crump, p. 305; Kamo, Court Interrogation of 3 June 1911, in Zenshu, 
III, p. 208. 

120 [Kanno] ‘Sugako’, ‘Heiminsha yori’ [first published in Jiyu Shiso, no. 2, 
10 June 1909], in Zenshu, II, pp. 242-4. 

121 Uchiyama Gudo was arrested much earlier than the others, but was still 
one of the twelve hanged. 



Notes 263 


122 Cited in Notehelfer, p. 174. 

123 Letter from Kotoku to his mother dated 19 September 1909, included in 
Shiota Shobei (ed.), Kotoku Shusui no Nikki to Shokan, Tokyo, Miraisha, 
1965, pp. 315-6. 

124 Sievers (pp. 121, 219) notes that Kotoku was unpopular with Heiminsha 
women some years earlier because he patronized them. She suggests that 
with them he then had a reputation for being more sexist than other Meiji 
socialist men. 

125 Records of Pretrial Hearing, Sixth Interrogation of Kotoku Denjiro 
(6 July 1910), in Shiota Shdbei and Watanabe Junzo (eds), Hiroku Tai- 
gyaku Jiken, II, Tokyo, Shunjusha, 1959, p. 19. 

126 Cf. Shimizu, Biography, pp. 3 1 3—4; I toy a, p. 167. 

127 Arahata, pp. 196-201. 

128 Shimizu, Biography, pp. 305-6. 

129 Kanno, Diary (21 January 1911), in Zenshu, II, p. 263. 

130 On a Meiji ‘Lady Chatterley trial’ where one naturalist novelist went on 
trial for writing about an adulterous affair, see Rubin, pp. 83-93. 

131 Kotoku Shusui, Jiyu Shiso, no. 1 (25 May 1909), in Asukai Masamichi 
(ed.), Kindai Nihon Shiso Taikei, 13: Kotoku Shusui Shu, Tokyo, Chikuma 
Shobo, 1975, p. 330. 

132 On a contemporaneous socialist sex scandal in England, see Christine 
Collette, ‘Socialism and Scandal: the Sexual Politics of the early Labour 
Movement’, History Workshop, no. 23 (Spring 1987), pp. 102-11. 

133 See Kanno, Prison Declaration, no. 1 (2 June 1910), in Zenshu, III, p . 195. 

134 Osugi cited in Hane, Reflections, p. 54. It is ironic that Osugi was himself 
ostracized over a similar anarchist ‘free love’ incident in 1916. 

135 [Kanno] ‘Ryuko’, ‘Chiisaki Kyogi’ [first published in Jiyu Shisd, no. 1, 
25 May 1909], in Zenshu, III, pp. 134-5. 

136 Hane, Reflections, p. 51. 

137 See Kanno, Court Interrogation (3 June 1910), in Zenshu, III, pp. 207-8. 

138 Letter from Kotoku to Arahata (20 May 1910), in Shiota (ed.), p. 334. 

139 Shimizu, Biography, p. 315. See Kotoku’s Sixth Court Interrogation 
(6 July 1910), in Shiota and Watanabe (eds), II, p. 20. 

140 Letter to Furukawa Rikisaku (18 April 1910), in Zenshu, III, pp. 156-7. 

141 For the argument on their estrangement, cf. Notehelfer, p. 180; Setouchi, 
‘Koi to Kakumei’, pp. 300-1. 

142 Kanno, Letters to Kotoku Shusui, in Zenshu, III, pp. 159-62. 

143 See Shiota (ed.), pp. 318, 334. 

144 On this, see Notehelfer, pp. 179-83. 

145 Mentioned in Kanno, Court Interrogation, no. 2 (5 June 1910), in Zenshu, 
III, pp. 231-2; cf. Itoya Toshio, Kotoku Shusui Kenkyu, Tokyo, Aoki 
Shoten, 1967, p. 285. 

146 Letter to Furukawa Rikisaku, p. 157. 

147 See Arahata cited in Crump, p. 308. 

148 Cited in ibid., p. 316. 

149 See Kotoku’s Court Interrogation, no. 13 (17 October 1910), in Shiota 
and Watanabe (eds), pp. 35, 39-40. There are many parallels between 
the situation, ideas, motives for action, and tactics of the terrorist wing 
of the Russian populists, Narodnaya Volya (People’s Will), and these 
Japanese ‘direct actionists’. See Broido, p. 205. 



264 Notes 


150 Kanno, Diary (23 January 1911), in Zenshu, II, pp. 268-9. 

151 Zenshu, III, pp. 197-8. 

152 Ibid., pp. 202-3. 

153 Ibid., pp. 205-8. 

154 Barbara Smith, ‘ltd Noe, Living Love and Anarchy: “Free Love” in 
Taisho Japan’, Unpublished Honours Thesis, Centre for Asian Studies, 
University of Adelaide, 1991. 

155 Zenshu, III, pp. 222-3. 

156 See Rubin on Hiraide’s works, pp. 162 ff. 

157 Zenshu, III, pp. 248-50. 

158 Ibid., pp. 286-7. 

159 See, for example, Kanno, Diary (20 January 1911), in Zenshu, II, pp. 252-3. 

160 Letter to Tamikawa Takeo (21 January 1911), in Zenshu, III, p. 183. 

161 Letter to Yoshikawa Morikuni (24 January 191 1), in ibid., p. 189. 

162 Ibid. It appears to have been from Itoya’s biography of Suga (citing 
Arahata) that Notehelfer gained the mistaken impression that Suga 
‘sank into a life of prostitution’ for several years. If she did lead a so- 
called ‘debauched’ life, it was at most only for a few months, and this 
was while she was a journalist and perhaps Udagawa’s lover. There is 
no suggestion in any works other than Notehelfer’s that she was ever a 
‘prostitute’. Cf. Notehelfer, pp. 166 ff. 

163 Kanno, Diary (23 January 1911), in Zenshu, II, pp. 268-9. 


8 KANEKO FUMIKO (1922-1926) 

1 For example, Komatsu Ryuji, ‘Hangyaku no Josei, Kaneko Fumiko: “Pak 
Yeol Jiken” Hashiguki’, Jiyu Shiso, vol. 6 (July 1961), pp. 37-44; Jean 
Inglis’, ‘Book Review: “What Made Me Like This? The Prison Memories 
of Kaneko Fumiko’ Anpo: Japan- Asia Quarterly Review, vol. 13, no. 2 
(1981), pp. 35 ff.; Hane Mikiso, Reflections on the Way to the Gallows: 
Rebel Women in Prewar Japan, New York, Pantheon, 1988, pp. 75-80. 

2 The few available English sources make no use at all of the witness inter- 
rogation records: Hane, Reflections, pp. 75-124; Introduction to Jean 
Inglis (trans.), Kantko Fumiko: The Prison Memoirs of a Japanese 
Woman, New York and London, M.E. Sharpe, 1991, vii-xviii. 

3 For Fumiko’s rather lengthy account (condemnation) in court of her 
upbringing, see Tokyo District Court Interrogation, no. 2 (17 January 
1924), in Kaneko Fumiko, Pak Yeol Saiban Kiroku, Tokyo, Kokushoku 
Sensensha, 1977, pp 9-15. (Since all interrogations, including those of 
witnesses, are included in these trial records, all subsequent references 
will merely give the page number/s.) 

4 See Kaneko Fumiko, Nani ga Watashi o Kosaseta ka, Tokyo, Chikuma 
Shobo, 1984, pp. 5-6. (Hereafter, Fumiko’s memoirs will be referred to 
only by surname anc page number/s.) 

5 Kaneko, District Court Interrogation, no. 2 (17 January 1924), p. 15. 

6 See Matsuda Michic (ed.), Gendai Nihon Shiso Taikei, 16: Anakizumu, 
Tokyo, Chikuma Shobo, 1963, p. 44. 

7 Ibid.; cf. John Crump, The Origins of Socialist Though in Japan, London 
and Canberra, Croom Helm, 1983, pp. 278-9. 



Notes 265 


8 Stephen Large, Organized Workers and Socialist Politics in Interwar 
Japan, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1981, pp. 19, 268. 

9 See ‘Anarchism in Japan’, Anarchy Magazine, vol. 1, no. 5, 2nd series 
(year not given), pp. 5-6. 

10 On the Shinjinkai see Henry D. Smith II, Japan’s First Student Radicals, 
Boston, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press, 1972, p. 74. 

11 Kaneko, Court Interrogation, no. 5 (24 January 1924), p. 21. 

12 See the advertisements section in Kokuto (also called ’La Nigra Ondo’), 
no. 2 (10 August 1922), p. 3 (copy in Saiban Kiroku, p. 812.) 

13 Osugi, ‘Torotsukii no Kyodo Sensenron’, in Osawa Masamichi (ed.), 
O sugi Sakae Zenshu, VI: Rodo Undo Ronshu, Tokyo, Gendai Shicho, 
1963, pp. 112 ff. 

14 On anarchist printers, see Hagiwara Shintaro, Nihon Anakizumu Rodo 
Undoshi, Tokyo, Gendai Shicho, 1969, pp. 120 ff. 

15 See Osugi, ‘Sengen-Seishinkai Sogi’, in Osawa (ed.), p. 181. 

16 Cf. B.L. Simcock, The Anarcho-Syndicalist Thought and Activity of 
Osugi Sakae, 1885-1923’, Papers on Japan (East Asian Research 
Center, Harvard University), vol. 5 (1970), pp. 45-7; and Thomas A. 
Stanley, Osugi Sakae, Anarchist in Taisho Japan: The Creativity of the 
Ego, Boston, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press, 1969, p. 141. 

17 Cf. George T. Shea, Leftwing Literature in Japan: A Brief History of the 
Proletarian Literary Movement, Tokyo, Hosei University Press, 1964, 
pp. 140-2, 199-200; and Matsuda, pp. 59-60. 

18 See Niiyama, Court Interrogation (27 October 1923), pp. 300-1. 

19 Kaneko, Court Interrogation, no. 5 (24 January 1924), p. 21. 

20 ‘Fumiko’, ‘Omotta Koto, Futatsu-Mittsu’ [in Kokuto, no. 2 (10 August 
1922) p. 1, reprinted in Saiban Kiroku, p. 810. 

21 C. Lee and G. de Vos, Koreans in Japan: Ethnic Conflict and Accommoda- 
tion, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1981, p. 21. 

22 George Totten, The Social Democratic Movement in Prewar Japan, New 
Haven, Connecticut, Yale University Press, 1966, p. 373. On the Japanese 
government’s policy of forced migration of Korean labourers (estimated 
total of 1,500,000) implemented from 1939, see Tsurumi Shunsuke, An 
Intellectual History of Wartime Japan, 1931-1945, London and Henley, 
KPI Limited, 1986, p. 56. 

23 On the formation of the first Korean nationalist group in Japan in 1920, 
and the first anarchist group (the Kokutokai), see Lee and de Vos, p. 68; 
R. A. Scalapino and C. Lee, Communism in Korea, Berkeley, University of 
California Press, 1972, p. 57; on Korean radical groups in Japan then, 
cf. Michael Weiner, The Origins of the Korean Community in Japan, 
1910-1923, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1989. 

24 ‘Fumiko’, ‘Eiyo Kenkyushocho Saeki-hakase ni’, in Kokuto, no. 2 
(10 August 1922) p. 3, in Saiban Kiroku, p. 812. 

25 Kaneko, loc. cit. 

26 For such advertisements, see Saiban Kiroku, pp. 813 ff. 

27 On the Japanese anarchist practice of ‘ ryaku , see John Crump, Hatta 
Shuzo and Pure Anarchism in Interwar Japan, London and New York, 
Macmillan and St. Martin’s Press, 1993, p. 56. 

28 Kaneko, Court Interrogation, loc. cit.; and Court Interrogation, no. 1 
(25 October 1923), p. 8. 



266 Notes 


29 For example, in Ccurt Interrogation, no. 6 (25 January 1924), p. 23. 

30 See Iwasaki Zenemon, Witness Interrogation Record, no. 1 (20 August 
1925), p. 248. 

31 Lee and de Vos, p. 22. 

32 Cited in ibid., pp. 22-3. 

33 Ibid., p. 27. 

34 Futei Senjin, no. 1 l undated, probably early in November 1922), p. 1, in 
Saiban Kiroku, p. 813. 

35 See Genshakai [forrr erly Futei Senjin ], no. 3 (March 1923), in ibid., p. 834. 
On the March First Movement, see Frank Baldwin, ‘Participatory Anti- 
Imperialism: The 919 Independence Movement’, Journal of Korean 
Studies, vol. 1 (1979), pp. 123-62. 

36 Futei Senjin, no. 2 (December 1922), p. 4, and Genshakai, no. 4 (June 
1923), in Saiban Kiroku, pp. 818, 864. 

37 ‘Kaneko Fumi’, ‘Aiu Kaiwa’, in Genshakai, ibid., p. 863. 

38 ‘Pak Fumiko’, ‘Iwt yuru “Futei Senjin” to wa’, in Futei Senjin, no. 2 
(December 1922), in Saiban Kiroku, p. 817. 

39 Here I will not attempt to give an overall view of the content of Fumiko’s 
autobiography because it is now available in full English translation by 
Jean Inglis (cited above). 

40 Comrade, Kurihara Kazuo, said Fumiko was born in 1906, in Jiyu Rengd 
Shinbun, no. 39 (1 September 1929), p. 2, in Saiban Kiroku, p. 802; for 
Komatsu (p. 38) il was 1907 (Meiji 38, he said, so really 1905); in 
Inglis’ translation it appears as both 1902 and 1903 (publication details 
page and page vii o ' Hane’s introduction). 

41 See Witness Interrogation Records (10 and 11 August 1925), and copy of 
Kaneko family register, in Saiban Kiroku, pp. 224-5, 229-39, 875. 

42 Kaneko, Akai Tsutsuji, p. 36. 

43 Fumiko’s mother’s tame was therefore given incorrectly as ‘Tokuno’ in 
the 1984 Tokyo, Chikuma Shobo edition of her memoirs. 

44 Cf. Kaneko ‘Kie’, Witness Interrogation Record, no. 1 (11 August 1925), 
p. 228, and Kaneko extract from Register of Families, loc. cit.; also 
Kaneko, pp. 4, 15. 

45 Saeki Fumikazu, Witness Interrogation, no. 1 (10 August 1925), p. 224. 

46 Cf. Kaneko ‘Kie’, p 230; Saeki, p. 227. 

47 See Kaneko, Court Interrogation, no. 6 (25 January 1924), p. 23. 

48 Kaneko, pp. 6-7. 

49 Kaneko, p. 8; cf. Kaneko ‘Kie’, loc. cit. 

50 Kaneko, ibid. 

51 See Saeki, loc. cit.; Kaneko ‘Kie’, p. 231; and Kaneko Sehi, Witness Inter- 
rogation Record (13 August 1925), p. 239. 

52 Kaneko, pp. 10-1. Cf. Saeki, loc. cit. 

53 Kaneko ‘Kie’, p. 229. 

54 Kaneko, pp. 14—5; Kaneko ‘Kie’, p. 231. 

55 Kaneko, Akai Tsutsuji, p. 12. 

56 Saeki, p. 227. 

57 Kaneko, pp. 114 ff. 

58 See Setouchi Harumi, Yohaku no Haru, Tokyo, Chtiko Bunko, 1975, 
pp. 97-8; also Kaneco, p. 12. Inglis gives Takatoshi’s name as ‘Ken’ in 



Notes 267 


her translation of the memoirs, but bolh parents referred to him by name 
in their testimonies. 

59 See Kaneko ‘Kie’, p. 232. 

60 Kaneko, pp. 12-3. 

61 Ibid., p. 15. 

62 See Saeki, pp. 225-6. 

63 See Kaneko ‘Kie’, p. 233. 

64 Kaneko, p. 19. 

65 Ibid., p. 22. On Nakamura’s theft, cf. Kaneko ‘Kie’, p. 233. 

66 Kaneko, p. 23. 

67 Ibid., p. 24. 

68 Ibid., pp. 24-5; Kaneko ‘Kie’, loc. cit. 

69 Kaneko, pp. 27-9. 

70 Liza Dalby, Geisha, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1983, 
pp. 167, 235. 

71 Kaneko ‘Kie’, loc. cit. 

72 Kaneko, p. 29. 

73 Ibid., pp. 36-7. 

74 On the lower incidence of infanticide m villages early this century because 
now a capital offence (unlike in Tokugawa), see Hane Mikiso, Peasants, 
Rebels, and Outcastes: The Underside of Modern Japan, New York, 
Pantheon, 1982, p. 209. 

75 Cf. Kaneko, p. 38; Kaneko ‘Kie’, Witness Interrogation Record, no. 2 
(12 August 1925), p. 234. 

76 For a discussion of the view of nature of one of Japan’s ‘pure’ (not syn- 
dicalist) anarchists in Taisho, see John Crump, ‘Hatta Shuzo and “Pure 
Anarchism”’, Japan Foundation Newsletter, pp. 15-19. 

'll Kaneko, pp. 31-6. 

78 On the mills in this whole area, Chubu and Kanto, see Hane, Peasants, 
Rebels and Outcastes, pp. 173 ff. 

79 Kaneko, pp. 40-1. 

80 See Kaneko ‘Kie’, pp. 234-5. 

81 Kaneko, pp. 41-2. Cf. Kaneko ‘Kie’, ibid. 

82 Copy of register in Saiban Kiroku, p. 875. 

83 Kaneko, p. 48. 

84 Ibid., pp. 47-8. On the means by which Japanese colonists gradually 
gained control of the land in Korea, see Tsurumi Shunsuke, p. 55. 

85 Kaneko, p. 95. 

86 Cf- Saeki, p. 226; Kaneko ‘Kie’, pp. 235-6. 

87 Ibid., p. 53. 

88 Kaneko, Court Interrogation, no. 3 (22 January 1924), pp. 15-16. 

89 Kaneko, pp. 70-3. 

90 Ibid., pp. 58-9. 

91 Ibid., pp. 91-5. 

92 Ibid., pp. 110-1. 

93 Cf. Saeki, Witness Interrogation Records (nos. 1 and 2), pp. 226, 243. 

94 On endogamous marriage in the villages, see Hane, Peasants, Rebels and 
Outcastes, pp. 69, 82; cf. Robert J. Smith and Ella Lury Wiswell, The 
Women of Suye Mura, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1982, 
pp. 92-3, 151-5. 



268 Notes 


95 Cf. Kaneko Sehi, p . 240; Saeki (no. 2), loc. cit. 

96 Ibid., pp. 127-9. 

97 Kaneko, Court Interrogation, no. 2 (17 January 1924), p. 14. 

98 Kaneko, pp. 118-19. 

99 Ibid., pp. 116, 136-7. 

100 Ibid., pp. 138-9. 

101 See Kubota Kametaro, Witness Interrogation Record (18 August 1925), 
pp. 241-2. 

102 Cf. Furihata Kazushige, Witness Interrogation Record (25 August 1925), 
p. 251. 

103 Kaneko, p. 145. 

104 Kaneko, Akai Tsut.iuji, pp. 12-3. 

105 Cf. Kaneko, pp. 153-5; and Furihata, loc. cit. 

106 Kaneko, p. 149. 

107 Kaneko, Court Interrogation, no. 3 (22 January 1924), p. 16. 

108 Furihata, loc. cit. 

109 Cf. Kaneko, pp. 155-7; Furihata, ibid. 

110 Cf. Kaneko, pp. 1 7 2—4; Saito Otomatsu, Witness Interrogation Record 
(19 August 1925), p. 245. 

111 Kaneko, pp. 175-6; cf. Suzuki Kanesaburo, Witness Interrogation 
Record, no. 1 (19 August 1925), pp. 246-7. 

112 Kaneko, Court Interrogation, no. 2 (17 January 1924), p. 13. 

113 Cf. Kaneko, p. 181i; Kaneko, Court Interrogation, no. 3 (22 January 
1924), p. 17. Kutsumi herself suggested that she neglected her children, 
in Hane (trans., ed. I, Reflections, pp. 154 ff. 

114 It is strange that Frmiko obviously retained a respect for Osugi Sakae 
because he and I to Noe did not register their children, even as ‘illegiti- 
mate’. See Kondo Kenji, lchi Museifushugisha no Kaiso, Tokyo, Heibon- 
sha, 1965, p. 125. 

115 Kaneko, pp. 177-8. 

116 Ibid., pp. 178-9. 

117 Ibid., p. 180. 

118 Cf. ibid., p. 183; anc on Osugi’s attitudes toward intellectuals, see various 
articles on the subject in Osawa (ed.), Osugi Sakae Zenshu, VI. 

119 Kaneko, pp. 1 84—5. 

120 See Kubota Kamett ro, p. 242. 

121 Iwasaki Zenemon, Witness Interrogation Record (20 August 1925), p. 247. 

122 Kaneko, Akai Tsutsuji, p. 15. 

123 Niiyama Hatsuyo, Court Interrogation (27 October 1923), pp. 300-1. 
Cf. Kaneko, pp. 192-3. According to Komatsu, Niiyama was mistreated 
in prison; hence her tuberculosis was aggravated and her kidneys 
inflamed. (The sources are inconsistent about whether she actually died 
in prison or was released first.) She died on 27 November 1923 at the 
age of 2 1 . 

124 Kaneko, pp. 194-5. 

125 Kaneko’s critique of revolution was surely influenced by Osugi’s critiques 
of Russian Bolshe\ik authoritarianism (suppression of the left-wing 
opposition etc.), on which see Stanley, pp. 138 ff. 

126 Kaneko, pp. 193-4. Cf. Kaneko, Court Interrogations, nos 4 and 6 (23 
and 25 January 192^), pp. 19, 23. 



Notes 269 


127 Kaneko, pp. 197-8. 

128 Ibid., pp. 201-2. 

129 Ibid., pp. 203-4. 

130 Ibid., p. 205. 

131 See Chung Tae Sung, Court Interrogation, no. 3 (24 November 1923), 
p. 340. 

132 See Kaneko, Court Interrogation, no. 4 (23 January 1924), p. 20. 

133 Cf. Pak Yeol, Court Interrogation, no. 16 (2 May 1925), p. 70; and 
Kaneko, Court Interrogations nos. 13-14 (21 May 1924 and 5 March 
1925), pp. 65-6. 

134 Kaneko, Court Interrogation, no. 3 (22 January 1924), p. 17. 

135 Ibid., p. 18. 

136 See Kaneko, Court Interrogation, no. 12 (14 May 1924), pp. 57-62. 

137 Hane’s translation, Reflections, pp. 123-4. (The passage is from her 
twelfth testimony, ibid.) 

138 Kaneko, Court Interrogation, no. 3 (22 January 1924), p. 19. 

139 Kaneko, Akai Tsutsuji, p. 19. 


EPILOGUE 

1 Jean-Michel Raynaud, ‘What’s What in Biography’, in James Walter (ed.), 
Reading Life Histories: Griffith Papers on Biography, Queensland, Griffith 
University, 1981, p. 93. 

2 Ibid. 

3 Cited in Setouchi Harumi, ‘Kaneko Fumiko’, in Setouchi (ed.), Jinbutsu 
Kindai Joseishi, Onna no Isshd, 6, Hangyaku no Onna no Roman, Tokyo, 
Kodansha, 1981, p. 146. 

4 Inga Clendinnen, Ambivalent Conquests: Maya and Spaniard in Yucatan, 
1517-1570, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1987, p. 116. 



Select bibliography of Japanese sources 


Akiyama Kiyoshi, Nihir.t to Teroru [ Nihility and Terror], Tokyo, Tairyusha, 
1977. 

‘Sei to Jiyu ni tsuite’ [‘On Sex and Freedom’], Shi so no Kagaku, no. 123 

(November 1971), pp. 26-34. 

Waga Boryoku Kd [My Studies on Violence ], Tokyo, San’ichi Shobo, 

1977. 

Arahata Kanson, Kanson Jiden [ Kanson's Autobiography ], Tokyo, Ronsosha, 
1961. 

Asukai Masamichi (ed. , Kindai Nihon Shiso Taikei: Kotoku Shusui Shu 
[Outline of Modern Japanese Thought: Works of Kotoku Shusui], Tokyo, 
Chikuma Shobo, 1975 

Eguchi Kan, Waga Bungaku Hansel Ki, II [Record of Half my Life of Litera- 
ture, Volume II], Tokyo, Aoki Shoten, 1968. 

Fukunaga Isao, Kyosantoin no Tenko to Tennosei [The Tenko of Japan Com- 
munist Party Members and the Emperor-System], Tokyo, San-ichi Shobo, 

1978. 

Fuse Kanji, Aru Bengosh': no Shogai : Fuse Tatsuji [The Life of a Lawyer: Fuse 
Tatsuji], Tokyo, Iwam.mi Shoten, 1963. 

Fuse Tatsuji, Unmei no Shorisha: Pak Yeol [Victor Over Destiny: Pak Yeol], 
Tokyo, Seiki Shobo, 1946. 

Flagiwara Shintard, Nihon Anakizumu Rodb Undoshi [A History of Japan’s 
Anarchist Labour Movement], Tokyo, Gendai Shicho, 1969. 

ltd Noe, ‘Sanin no Taido’ [‘Sanine’s Attitudes’], in ltd Noe Zenshu, II [The 
Collected Works of ltd Noe, Volume 2], Tokyo, Gakugei Shorin, 1986, 
pp. 301—4. 

Itoya Toshio, Kanno Suga: Heiminsha no Fujin Kakumeika Zo [Kamo Suga: 
Portrait of a Woman Revolutionary of the Commoners’ Society], Tokyo, 
Iwanami Shinsho, 1970. 

Kotoku Shusui Kenkyu [Research on Kotoku Shusui], Tokyo, Aoki 

Shoten, 1967. 

Kaneko Fumiko, Akai Tsutsuji no Hana: Kaneko Fumiko no Omoide to Kashu 
[Red Azaleas: Reminiscences of Kaneko Fumiko and her Collected Poetry], 
Tokyo, Kokushoku Se tsensha [editors and publishers], 1984. 

Kaneko Fumiko, Pak Yeol Saiban Kiroku [Kaneko Fumiko, Pak Yeol Trial 

Records], Tokyo, Kokushoku Sensensha [editors and publishers], 1977 [texts 
in this collection not by Kaneko are listed under ‘Saiban Kiroku’]. 



Select bibliography of Japanese sources 27 1 


‘Aru Kaiwa’ [‘A Conversation’, signed ‘Kaneko Fumi’, first published in 

Genshakai, no. 4, June 1923], in Saiban Kiroku, p. 863. 

‘Chosen [illegible text] Kinenbi’ [‘Anniversary of the Korean . . . ’, signed 

‘Kaneko Fumi’, first published in Genshakai, no. 3, March 1923], in Saiban 
Kiroku, p. 834. 

‘Eiyo Kenkyushochd Saeki-hakase ni' [‘To Dr Saeki, Flead of the Nutri- 
tion Research Centre’, signed ‘Fumiko’, first published in Kokuto, no. 2, 
10 August 1922], in Saiban Kiroku, p. 812. 

‘Iwayuru “Futei Senjin” to wa’ [‘So-called “Malcontent Koreans”?’, 

signed ‘Pak Fumiko’, first published in Futei Senjin, no. 2, December 
1922], in Saiban Kiroku, p. 817. 

Letter to Judge Tatematsu Kaisei (Morning, 21st [May 1925]), in Saiban 

Kiroku, p. 107. 

Nani ga Watashi o Kosaseta ka [What Made Me Like This?], Tokyo, 

Chikuma Shobo, 1984. 

‘Nijuroku Nichi, Yahan’ [‘26th, Late in the Night’, Memo drafted 

26 February 1926 and read in the Supreme Court the next day], in Saiban 
Kiroku, pp. 739^18. 

‘Omotta Koto, Futatsu-Mittsu’ [‘Two or Three Things I’ve Thought 

About’, signed ‘Fumiko’, first published in Kokuto, no. 2, 10 August 
1922], in Saiban Kiroku, p. 810. 

Supreme Court Interrogation Records'. 

no. 1 (26 February 1926, both Kaneko and Pak questioned), in Saiban 
Kiroku, pp. 673-94. 

Tokyo District Court Preliminary Interrogation Records : 

no. 1 (25 October 1923), in Saiban Kiroku, p. 8. 

no. 2 (17 January 1924), in Saiban Kiroku, pp. 9-15. 

no. 3 (22 January 1924), in Saiban Kiroku, pp. 15-19. 

no. 4 (23 January 1924), in Saiban Kiroku, pp. 19-20. 

no. 5 (24 January 1924), in Saiban Kiroku, pp. 21-2. 

no. 6 (25 January 1924), in Saiban Kiroku, pp. 23^1. 

no. 7 (25 January 1924), in Saiban Kiroku, pp. 25-8. 

no. 12 (14 May 1924), in Saiban Kiroku, pp. 57-62. 
no. 13 (21 May 1924), in Saiban Kiroku, p. 65. 
no. 14 (5 March 1925), in Saiban Kiroku, pp. 65-6. 

Untitled and Undated Statement (October/Novemberl 925), in Saiban 

Kiroku, pp. 581-9. 

‘Yabure Shoji kara’ [‘From the Tom Sliding Door’, signed ‘Fumiko’, 

first published in Futei Senjin, no. 2, December 1922], in Saiban Kiroku, 

p. 818. 

‘Yabure Shoji kara’ [signed ‘Fumiko’, first published in Genshakai, no. 4, 

June 1923], in Saiban Kiroku, p. 864. 

Kanno Suga, Kanno Sugako Zenshu [The Collected Works of Kanno Sugako], 
3 Volumes (Shimizu Unosuke, ed.), Tokyo, Koryusha, 1984. 

‘Aa, Imoto’ [‘Ah, Little Sister’, signed ‘Sugako’, first published in 

Mainichi Denpo, no. 1331, 15 July 1907], in Zenshu, II , p. 206. 

‘Chiisaki Kyogi’ [‘White Lie/s’, general title for five tanka, signed 

‘Ryuko’, first published in Jiyu Shiso, no. 1, 25 May 1909], in Zenshu, III, 
pp. 134-5. 



272 Select bibliography of Japanese sources 


‘Danshi no Sokurr enkan’ [‘A Perspective on Men’, signed ‘Yuzukijo’, 

first published in Muro Shinpb, no. 587, 6 May 1906], in Zenshu, II, 
pp. 139-41. 

Declarations to Prosecutors'. 

no. 1 (2 June 1910), in Zenshu, III, pp. 195-6. 

[not numbered] (3 June 1910), in Zenshu, III, pp. 197-205. 

[not numbered] (26 September 1910), in Zenshu, III, pp. 275-6. 

‘Fude no Shizuku’ |‘Ink Drops’, signed ‘Sugako’, first published in Muro 

Shinpb, no. 535, 24 November 1905], in Zenshu, II, pp. 38^10. 

‘Hakurankai Kogoto’ [‘Faults of the Exposition’, signed ‘Yuzuki-joshi’, 

first published in eight parts in Osaka Choho, nos. 163-71, 11-20 March 
1903], in Zenshu, I, pp. 271-93. 

‘Heiminsha yori’ [‘From the Commoners’ Society’, signed ‘Sugako’, first 

published in Jiyu Shiso , 10 June 1909], in Zenshu, II, pp. 242-4. 

‘Hiji Deppo [‘Rebulf’, signed ‘Yuzukijo’, first published in Muro Shinpb, 

no. 580, 15 April 1906], in Zenshu, II, pp. 111-14. 

‘Isshukan’ [‘One Week’, signed ‘Sugako’, first published in twenty-two 

parts in Osaka Choho nos. 106-31, 29 November-28 December 1902], in 
Zenshu, I, pp. 1 54- 2 K. 

‘Joshu to Joko’ [‘Female Prisoners and Female Workers’, signed ‘Kanno 

Sugako’, first published in Mainichi Denpo, no. 1139, 4 January 1907], in 
Zenshu, II, pp. 179-82. 

‘Kanson-kun ni’ [‘To Kanson’, signed ‘Yuzukijo’, first published in Muro 

Shinpb, no. 579, 12 April 1906], in Zenshu, II, p. 110. 

‘Kanson-kun o Okuru’ [‘Seeing Kanson Off’, signed ‘Sugako’, first pub- 
lished in Muro Shinpb, no. 581, 18 April 1906], in Zenshu, II, pp. 116-18. 

‘Kata Kanroku’ [‘ Record of Prejudices’, signed ‘Yuzukijo’, first pub- 
lished in Muro Shinpb, no. 581, 18 April 1906], in Zenshu, II, pp. 119-20. 

‘Kenka no Joshi ni Gekisu’ [‘Appeal to Women Throughout the Prefec- 
ture’, signed ‘Yuzukijo’, first published in Muro Shinpb, no. 566, 3 March 
1906], in Zenshu, II, po. 69-71. 

— — ‘Kinenbi’ [‘Days o’ Remembrance’, signed ‘Oitako’, first published in 
Osaka Choho, no. 22, 26 July 1902], in Zenshu, I, pp. 80-2. 

‘K5gyo Kannai no Kigu’ (‘Chance Meeting in the Industrial Pavilion’, 

signed ‘Sugako’, first published in Osaka Choho, no. 162, 8 March 1903], 
in Zenshu, I, pp. 267-9. 

‘Komatsumiya-denka no Goitoku’ [‘To the Memory of His Imperial 

Highness, Komatsumiya’, signed ‘Yuzuki-joshi’, first published in Osaka 
Choho, no. 160, 6 Match 1903], in Zenshu, I, pp. 263-6. 

‘Misohitomoji no Ongakkai Kenmonki’ [‘Impressions of the Misohito- 

moji Concert’, signed Yuzukijo’, first published in Muro Shinpb, no. 577, 
6 April 1906], in Zenshu, II, pp. 105-6. 

‘Omokage’ [‘Memories’, signed ‘Sugako’, first published in seven parts 

in Osaka Choho, nos. 23-40, 31 July-9 September 1902], in Zenshu, II, 
pp. 292-303. 

‘Onna toshite no Kib5’ [‘My Desires as a Woman’, signed ‘Yuzukijo’, 

first published in Muro Shinpb, no. 588, 9 May 1906], in Zenshu, II, 
pp. 143—5. 

Personal Letters to: 

Furukawa Rikisaku (18 April 1910), in Zenshu, III, pp. 156-7. 



Select bibliography of Japanese sources 273 

Kotoku Shusui (12 May 1910), in Zenshu, III, pp. 160-1. 

Kotoku Shusui (16 May 1910), in Zenshu, III, p. 162. 

Postcards to: 

Baibunsha (23 January 1911), in Zenshu, III, p. 188. 

Imamura Rikisaburo (13 January 1911), in Zenshu, III, p. 179. 

Kotoku Shusui (11 May 1910), in Zenshu, III, p. 159. 

Sakai Tameko (21 January 1911), in Zenshu, III, p. 184. 

Sakai Toshihiko (21 January 1911), in Zenshu, III, p. 185. 

Yoshikawa Morikuni (21 January 1911 ), in Zenshu, III, p. 182. 

Preliminary Interrogation Records: 

[not numbered] (3 June 1910), in Zenshu, III, pp. 205-17. 

no. 2 (5 June 1910), in Zenshu, III, pp. 221-33. 

no. 6 (13 June 1910), in Zenshu, III, pp. 246-50. 

no. 13 (17 October 1910), in Zenshu, III, pp. 276-91. 

‘Ris5 no Fujin’ [The Ideal Woman’, signed ‘Kanno Sugako’, first pub- 
lished in Kan'i Seikatsu, no. 3, 1 January 1907], in Zenshu, II, pp. 175-8. 

‘Ritchi’ [signed ‘Sugako’, first published in Michi no Tomo, May Issue, 

1903], in Zenshu, III, pp. 5-15. 

‘Rojdki’ [‘Record of a Siege’, signed ‘Yuzukijo’, first published in Muro 

Shinpd, no. 584, 27 April 1906], in Zenshu, II, pp. 132-8. 

Sealed Cards to: 

Ishikawa Sanshiro (14 January 1911), in Zenshu, III, p. 180. 

Osugi Sakae and Yasuko (21 January 1911), in Zenshu, III, pp. 185-6. 

Sakai Toshihiko (24 January 1911), in Zenshu, III, pp. 190-1. 

Sakai Toshihiko and Tameko (4 January 1911), in Zenshu, III, pp. 175-6. 

Tanikawa Takeo (21 January 1911), in Zenshu, III, pp. 182-3. 

Yoshikawa Morikuni (24 January 191 1), in Zenshu, III, p. 189. 

‘Senso to Fujin’ [‘The War and Women’, signed ‘Yuzuki-joshi’, first pub- 
lished in Michi no Tomo, April 1904], in Zenshu, II, pp. 5-8. 

‘Shide no Michikusa’ [‘A Pause on the Way to Death’ signed ‘Sugako’ - 

Prison Diary, 18-24 January 1911], in Zenshu, II, pp. 245-72. 

‘Shokutaku Kien no Hana’ [‘Heated Discussion at the Dining Table’, 

signed ‘Yujo’, first published in Mainichi Denpo, no. 1328, 12 July 1907], 
in Zenshu, II, pp. 203-4. 

‘ShugySfu no Buto Kinshi no Undo’ [‘The Movement to Prohibit the 

Dancing of Prostitutes’, signed ‘Yuzuki-joshi’, first published in Osaka 
Choho, no. 186, 8 April 1903], in Zenshu, I, pp. 376-81. 

‘Sokumenkan ni Tsuite’ [‘On “A Perspective”’, signed ‘Yuzukijo’, first 

published in Muro Shinpd, no. 589, 12 May 1906], in Zenshu, II, pp. 145-7. 

‘Sugamo no Ichi Yoru’ [‘An Evening at Sugamo’, signed ‘Yuzukijo’, first 

published in two parts in Mainichi Denpo, nos. 1457 and 1463, 18 and 
24 November 1907], in Zenshu, II, pp. 207-13. 

‘TenjSkai’ [‘The Celestial World’, signed ‘Yuzuki-joshi’, first published in 

Michi no Tomo, December 1904-January 1905], in Zenshu, II, pp. 19-29. 

‘Toraware no Ki’ [‘Account of an Imprisonment’, signed ‘Yuzukijo’, first 

published in Jiyu Shiso, no. 2, 10 June 1909], in Zenshu, II, pp. 238— 41 . 

‘Toshi no Hajime ni’ [‘At the Beginning of the Year’, signed ‘Yuzukijo’, 

first published in Muro Shinpd, no. 664, 1 January 1907], in Zenshu, II, 
pp. 1 73—4. 



274 Select bibliography of Japanese sources 


‘Tsuyuko’ [signed ‘Yuzuki’, first published serially in twenty-four parts in 

Muro Shinpd, nos. 527-75, 6 November 1905-30 March 1906], in Zenshu, 
III, pp. 83-128. 

‘Waga Ningyo’ [‘My Doll’, signed ‘Kanno Yuzukijo’, first published in 

Yomiuri Shinbun, 9 September 1906], in Zenshu, II, pp. 165-7. 

‘Waga Tera’ [‘Our "emple’, signed ‘Yuzukijo’, first published in Mainichi 

Denpo, no. 1618, April 1908], in Zenshu, II, pp. 227-9. 

‘Yajima-t5ji to Yanaka Mura’ [‘Madam Yajima and Yanaka Village’, 

unsigned, first published in Mainichi Denpo, no. 1329, 13 July 1907], in 
Zenshu, II, pp. 205-6. 

‘Yonin no Hahaue’ [‘My Four Mothers’, signed ‘Yuzukijo’, first pub- 
lished in Muro Shinpd, no. 576, 3 April 1906], in Zenshu, II, pp. 100-2. 

‘Zekko’ [‘Severed Relations’, signed ‘Sugako’, first published in 

Kirisutokyo Sekai, no. 1050, 8 October 1903], in Zenshu, III , pp. 45-50. 

Kim II Song, Pak Yeol, Tokyo, Godo Shuppan, 1974. 

Komatsu Ryuji, ‘Hangyaku no Josei, Kaneko Fumiko: “Pak Yeol Jiken” 
Hashigaki’ [‘Treasonous Woman, Kaneko Fumiko: Postscript to the “Pak 
Yeol Incident”’], Jiyu Shiso, vol. 6 (July 1961), pp. 37 44. 

Kondo Kenji, Ichi Muscifushugisha no Kaisd [Recollections of an Anarchist], 
Tokyo, Heibonsha, 1565. 

Kond5 Tomie, ‘Kanno Suga’, in Setouchi, Harumi (ed.), Jinbutsu Kindai 
Joseishi, Onna no Isr.ho, 6, Hangyaku no Onna no Roman [ Figures in 
Modern Women’s History, The Lives of Women, Volume 6: The Romances 
of Rebellious Women], Tokyo, Kodansha, 1981, pp. 21-56. 

K5toku Shusui Zenshu Henshu Iinkai (eds), Taigyaku Jiken Arubamu: Kotoku 
Shusui to sono Shuhen [Album of the High Treason Incident: Kotoku Shusui 
and his Environment], Tokyo, Meiji Bunken, 1972. 

Kurihara Kazuo, ‘Hangyakusha Den: Kaneko Fumiko’ [‘Biography of a 
Rebel: Kaneko Fumiko’, first published in Jiyu Rengo Shinbun, no. 39, 
1 September 1929], reproduced in Akai Tsutsuji no Hana [listed under 
Kaneko Fumiko], pp. 58-60. 

Matsuda Michio (ed.), Cendai Nihon Shiso Taikei, 16: Anakizumu [An Outline 
of Modern Japanese Thought, Volume 16: Anarchism], Tokyo, Chikuma 
Shobo, 1963. 

Mochizuki Kei, ‘Kaneko Fumiko-san no Shozo ni tsuite’ [‘About this Portrait 
of Kaneko Fumiko’], in Akai Tsutsuji no Hana [listed under Kaneko 
Fumiko], 16 June 1972, unnumbered pages. 

Morikawa Tetsuro, Ansttsu Hyakunenshi [History of a Century of Assassina- 
tions], Tokyo, Tosho shuppansha, 1973. 

Morinaga Eisaburo, ‘Flimerareta Saiban: Pak Yeol, Kaneko Fumiko Jiken, 
1-2’ [‘The Closed Trial: Pak Yeol, Kaneko Fumiko Incident, Parts One and 
Two’], Horitsu Jiho, vol. 35, nos. 3-4 (March and April 1963), pp. 57-63, 
60-7. 

Mukuge no Kai (eds), Chosen 1930 Nendai Kenkyu [Research on Korea in the 
1930s], Tokyo, San’icii Shobo, 1982. 

Nakamura Fumio, Taigyaku Jiken to Chishikijin [Intellectuals and the High 
Treason Incident ], Tokyo, San’ichi Shobo, 1981. 

Osawa Masamichi, ‘IsHkawa Sanshiro Ron’ [‘On Ishikawa Sanshiro’], in 
Tsurumi Shunsuke led.), Ishikawa Sanshiro Shu [Works of Ishikawa 
Sanshiro], Tokyo, Chikuma Shobo, 1976. 



Select bibliography of Japanese sources 275 


Osugi Sakae, Osugi Sakae Zenshu, VI, Rodb Undo Ronshu [ Collected Works of 
Osugi Sakae, Volume 6: Discourse on the Labour Movement ] (Osawa Masa- 
michi, ed.), Tokyo, Gendai Shicho, 1963. 

Saiban Kiroku (also listed under Kaneko) - 

Futeisha Interrogation Records'. 

Chung Tae Sung, no. 3 (24 November 1923), pp. 336^12. 

Niiyama Hatsuyo (27 October 1923), pp. 300-1. 

Pak Yeol, no. 16 (2 May 1925), pp. 70-1. 

[Kaneko] Kaiseigen Koseki [Revised Kaneko Family Register], Suwa, 

East Yamanashi, copies of documents in Saiban Kiroku, pp. 871-6. 

Pak Yeol, ‘Torishimari H5an’ [‘Control Measures’, first published in 

Futei Senjin, no. 1, November 1922], pp. 8 1 3—15. 

Tokyo Asahi Shinbun (31 July 1926), p. 1 [excerpt: newspaper report of 

Kaneko Fumiko’s death], p. 796. 

Witness Interrogation Records : 

Furihata Kazushige (25 August 1925), pp. 250-1. 

Iwasaki Zenemon, no. 1 (20 August 1925), pp. 247-8. 

Kaneko Kie [Kikuno], no. 1 (11 August 1925), pp. 228-33. 

Kaneko Kie, no. 2 (12 August 1925), pp. 234-7. 

Kaneko Sehi (13 August 1925), pp. 238^10. 

Kubota Kametaro (18 August 1925), pp. 241-3. 

Saeki Fumikazu, no. 1 (10 August 1925), pp. 224-8. 

Saeki Fumikazu, no. 2 (19 August 1925), pp. 243-4. 

Saito Otomatsu, no. 1 (19 August 1925), pp. 244-5. 

Suzuki Kanesaburo, no. 1 (19 August 1925), pp. 246-7. 

Sato Bunmei, Koseki ga Tsukuru Sabetsu [Discrimination Created by the 
Family Register], Tokyo, Gendai Shokar, 1984. 

Setouchi Flarumi, ‘Kaneko Fumiko’, in Setouchi Flarumi (ed.), Jinbutsu 
Kindai Joseishi, Onna no Issho, 6, Hangyaku no Onna no Roman [Figures 
in Modern Women's History, The Lives of Women, Volume 6: The Romances 
of Rebellious Women], Tokyo, Kodansha, 1981, pp. 141-80. 

‘Kanno Sugako: Koi to Kakumei ni Junjita Meiji no Onna (Bijoden 

Daikyuwa)’ [‘Kanno Sugako: the Meiji Woman who Martyred Herself for 
Love and Revolution (Biographies of Beautiful Women, No. 9)’], Chub 
Koron, vol. 80, no. 9 (September 1965), pp. 291-301. 

Toi Koe [Distant Voices, biography of Kanno], Tokyo, Shincho Bunko, 

1975. 

Yohaku no Haru [Blank Spring, biography of Kaneko], Tokyo, Chiikd 

Bunko, 1975. 

Shimizu Unosuke, ‘Kanno Sugako Shoden - Shogai to Kod5’ [‘A Short Bio- 
graphy of Kanno Sugako - Her Life and Activities’], in Shimizu Unosuke 
(ed.), Kanno Sugako Zenshu, III, Tokyo, Koryusha, 1984, pp. 295-325. 

Shiota Shobei (ed.), Kotoku Shusui no Nikki to Shokan [The Diary and Letters 
of Kotoku Shusui], Tokyo, Miraisha, 1965. 

Shiota Shobei and Watanabe Junz5 (eds), Hiroku Taigyaku Liken [The High 
Treason Incident, Confidential Documents], 2 Volumes, Tokyo, Shunjusha, 
1959 - 

Preliminary Interrogation Records'. 

Kotoku Shusui, no. 6 (6 July 1910), vol. 2, pp. 18-20. 

KStoku Shusui, no. 11 (25 July 1910), vol. 2, pp. 25-8. 



276 Select bibliography of Japanese sources 

Kotoku Shusui, no. 13 (17 October 1910), vol. 2, pp. 29 42. 

Shiso no Kagaku Kenkyukai (eds), Tenko, 1 [Ideological Conversion, Volume 1 ], 
Tokyo, Heibonsha, 1978. 

Suzuki Yuko (ed.), Shiso no Umi e (Kaiho to Kakumei), 21, Josei- Hangyaku 
to Kakumei to Teiko to [Into the Sea of Ideas (Liberation and Revolution) , 
Volume 21, Women - Rebellion, Revolution and Resistance ], Tokyo, Shakai 
Hyoronsha, 1990. 

Takeuchi Seiichi, Jiko Choetsu no Shiso: Kindai Nihon no Nihirizumu [The Idea 
of Self-Transcendence: Modern Japan’s Nihilism], Tokyo, Perikansha, 1988. 

Tsurumi Shunsuke (ed.), Ishikawa Sanshiro Shu [Works of Ishikawa Sanshird], 
Tokyo, Chikuma She bo, 1976. 

‘Kaisetsu’ [‘Afterword'], in Kaneko Fumiko, Nani ga Watashi o Kosaseta 

ka [What Made Me Like This?], Tokyo, Chikuma Shobo, 1984, pp. 207-14. 



Index 


Abe Jiro 99 

Abe Masao 120 

action 80, 96, 134-5, 254 (2n); 

influences on 113-15 
agency 15-16, 57 
akirame 130 
Akiyama Kiyoshi 125 
Alexander II, Tsar 39, 122 
Amakasu Masahiko 131 
Amaterasu O-mikami 22 
Amida Buddha 43, 92, 93 
Amsterdam Congress (1904) 116 
anarchism 20, 96, 116, 123, 195-6, 
222, 226, 267 (76n) 

Ando Shoeki 21-2, 96 
Andrew, N. 100 

Arahata Kanson 32, 40, 116, 144, 
146, 151, 152-3, 157, 159, 162, 
163, 167, 168, 171, 174, 176, 

180, 182, 184-5, 194, 242 (47n), 
243 (1 In), 250 (32n), 258 (16n), 
258 (18n) 

Aries, P. 89 

Artzibashev, M. 72-3, 96, 98, 99, 
100, 102, 103^1, 109, 115, 193 
Asahi Shinbun 99 
Ashio mine pollution accident 
162 

assassination 9, 12; motives for 
130-2; plots 181-2 

Baibunsha 243 (9n) 

Bergson, H. 96, 98, 99, 105, 114 
Berkman, A. 130 
biography 29, 233 


Buckle, H. 97 

Buddhism 20, 40, 45, 51, 68, 87, 90, 
94, 98, 105, 110, 119, 123, 126, 

127, 251 (53n) 

Buddhist Salvation Army 220 
Buruma, I. 118, 118-19, 120, 132 
Bushido 123 

Chiba Prison 63 
Chichibu uprising (1884) 127 
Chiyoko 169, 175, 187 
Christianity 43^1, 45, 50, 51, 76, 
93-6, 99, 100, 102, 104, 105, 125, 

128, 144, 146, 148, 149-50, 155, 
221, 224 

‘Chung’ 226 
Civil Code (1898) 160 
Clendinnen, I. 25, 115, 235 
Confucianism 22,94, 115, 119, 123, 
253 (82n) 

Craig, A. 119 
Crump, J. 19, 122, 129 
culture 115 

Dalby, L. 209 

Darwin, Charles (Darwinism) 96, 

97 

death: constructions of 14, 17, 33, 
35, 57-62, 71, 88-91; East/West 
differences 89-91; as heroic 46-50, 
52, 80; as integral part of life 
99-100; life after 42-6, 76-7, 

98, 100, 103, 105-11; political 
representations of 61; 
romanticization of 129, 132^4; 



278 Index 


rules for 126-30, 134; as sacrifice 
84-5; through rebellion 57-8, 68, 
101, 113, 117, 134 
documents, personal and trial 
testimonies 9-13 
Dogen 119-20 
Dostoevski, F.M. 119 


ego/self-assertion 80-1, 83, 99, 

101-2, 103, 115, 116-17, 120-1, 
125, 251 (53n) 

elite/mass difference 1 Of-— 7, 122, 125, 
130 

emperor-system 19, 21-4, 54-5, 98, 
114, 124, 192, 227-8, 230, 234-5 
eulogies 3-5, 15 
existentialism 252 (64n) 

‘female-school literature’ 140 
Foucault, M. 3, 4, 15, 17-18, 252 
(63n) 

Franciscans 25 
Fujiwara Fusasaki 205 
Fukuda Hideko see Kageyama 
(Fukuda) Flideko 
Fukuda Miyataro 131 
Furihata Kazushige 22H 
Furukawa Rikisaku 7, 177, 181 
Furuta Daijiro 131, 195 
Fuse Kanji 246 (12n), 247 (34n) 

Fuse Tatsuji 11, 63, 65, 67, 71 
Futei/Futoi Senjin 198, 200, 201 
Futeisha (Malcontents’ Society) 7, 8, 
65, 192, 193, 199, 202 


Gautama Buddha 99 
geisha-stepmother theme 151, 260 
(44n) 

gender constructions 123-4, 155, 
157-62, 174-5, 189, 242 (37n), 260 
(64n) 

Genshakai 198 

Girochinsha (Guillotine) Group of 
Osaka 131 
Gluck, C. 22, 23 
Goldman, E. 116, 163 
Great Death concept 126-30, 134, 
256 (50n) 


Great Kanto Earthquake (1923) 7, 
79, 131, 199-200 
Gyominkai 199, 224 

Hachioji Prison 69, 164 
Hakuaisha 156, 157 
Halliday, J. 22-3 
Hane Mikiso 18, 165 
Harada Ko 185 
Harazawa Takenosuke 199 
Harootunian, FED. 16 
Haruko 209 

Hayashi Utako 155, 156, 157, 160, 
165 

Hegel, G.W.F. 96, 98, 105 
Heimin Shinbun 97, 145, 148, 149, 
154, 162 

Heiminsha 163, 166, 169, 172, 174, 
189 

heroes 116; failed 117, 121; as noble 
117-26 

high treason incidents 6-9 
Hiraide Shu 7, 10, 11, 47, 52, 92, 

186 

Hiratsuka Raicho 100, 133 
Hirohito, crown prince 9 
Hokufukai 194 
Hokuseikai 195 
Hori Kiyotoshi 221-2 
Hori-Osugi Yasuko 60, 166, 167 
Huber, T. 117-18, 121 
humanism 16, 100, 252 (63n) 

‘Hyun’ 224 

‘I-novel’ 140 
Ichigaya Prison 68 
ideology 19-20, 51 
Ihara Saikaku 94 
Imamura Rikisaburo 44 ' 
immortality 98, 133; five modes of 
88, 105-11 

Irokawa Daikichi 24, 121, 256 (54n) 
Isaac, R. 25-6 

Ishikawa Sanshiro 44, 166, 167, 244 
(25n) 

Ishikawa Takuboku 10, 256 (39n) 
Itakura, judge 73 

Ito Noe 79-80, 103, 121, 130, 131, 
252 (65n), 253 (85n) 

Itoya Toshio 141, 156 



Index 279 


Iwasa Sakutaro 195 
Iwasaki Zenemon 224 

Japan Communist Party 195, 235 
Japan Socialist Party 163, 166 
Japaneseness 110, 111, 113 
JiyuShiso 124, 169, 170, 174-5 

Kageyama (Fukuda) Hideko 163, 

165 

Kamikawa Matsuko 168 
kamikaze pilots 129 
Kanda Police Station 171 
Kaneko Fumiko 183, 187; 
affirmation of Life 68, 71-5, 85, 
100, 103, 125, 230, 231; birth 

202- 3, 266 (40n); brother 207, 

218; death by suicide 63-8, 85; 
desire for revenge 77-80; 
education 211; emotions of 86-7; 
and eternal life 76-7; hatred of 
humankind 72, 75, 76, 109; and 
imperial assassination plot 69-70; 
intention to take her own life 69, 
77-8, 109; as live-in maid 221-2; 
as live-in waitress 224-5; loss of 
sister 209-10; and marriage 83-4, 
215, 216-18, 226-7; and meaning 
of life and death of 233-6; 
newsagency job 219-21; as a 
nihilist 71-5, 80-2, 96, 100, 195-6, 
221-2, 225-8, 229-31; and Pak 
Yeol 226-7, 228-9; parents 

203- 11, 215-16, 218, 223, 242 

(41 n); pessimism of 68; pre-prison 
texts 196-7, 198-202; attitudes 
toward self-sacrifice 80-5; and 
socialism 221-5; as a student 
219-21, 224-5; taken to Korea 
211-15; ‘truth’/meaning of her life 
191^1; as vengeful spirit 131-2; 
as ‘warped’ by family and society 
227, 231, 232 

Kaneko Kikuno 65-6, 203^4, 

206-11, 213, 215, 216, 223 
Kaneko-Kubota KametarS 219, 

221 

Kaneko-Saeki Taketoshi 206-7, 

218 

Kaneko Sehi 216-17 


Kaneko Takano 206 
Kanno Hide 40, 41, 42, 45, 141, 

155, 157, 162, 1 63—4 
Kanno Masao 41 
Kanno Motoei 216-19 
Kanno Nobu 143 

Kanno Suga 59, 61; as an anarchist 
167-9, 170-2; attitude to life 55-7; 
bequests to friends 108, 253 (83n); 
burial of 40-1; and Christianity 
150, 156-7, 250 (32n); concern for 
sister’s grave 40-2, 45; context/ 
style of works 140-1; and death 
of father 155-6; death of 39^10; 
and death of sister 163^1; and 
desire for revenge 52-5; and desire 
to be honest and resolute 59-62; 
diary of 41; and eternal life 42-6, 
49; family history 258 (6n); and 
free love scandal 173-7, 189, 253 
(8 In); health of 173, 179-80; 
ideals of 56-8; illness of 53, 56; 
involvement with literary patron 
143-6; in Kyoto 154-5, 156, 159, 
162; letters to foes 182-7; letters 
to friends 178-82, 187-8; literary 
talent 259 (36n); as materialist 
42-3; and meaning of life and 
death 233-6; ‘Omokage’ 142-3, 
189; as pacifist 149-50; pessimism 
of 55-6, 68; pictures of 190; 
political inspirations 148-9, 

154-5; in prison 170-1, 173, 
177-88; ‘promiscuity’ and 
prostitution 146-7, 188, 258 (18n), 
264 (162); and sacrifice to the 
cause 46-50, 52; and sexual 
politics 157-62, 164-5, 189; and 
socialism 148-9, 164, 165-7, 170, 
189; texts on rape 150^1; 
‘Tsuyuko’ 1 50—2; as vengeful 
spirit 131-2; writing career 141-2, 
147-8, 155, 162, 169-70 
Kanno Yoshihige 141, 155 
Katayama Sen 116 
Kat5 Shuichi 105-7, 110, 126-7, 

130, 132, 134 
Katsura Taro 6, 54, 167 
Kawakami Hajime 125, 256 (50n) 
Keene, D. 140 



280 Index 


Kemuriyama Sen taro 122 
Kim Choon Han 8, 69, 70, 84, 229 
Kim Ji Sup 9 
Kindai Shisd 194 
Kinmonth, Earl 97, 99, 100 
Kinoshita Naoe 147 
Kirisutokyd Sekai 91, 148, 154 
Kiyosumi, Governor 185 
Kobayashi 208, 209 
Kokushoku Sensensha 10, 67 
Kokuto 195, 196-8 
Kokutokai 195 
Kokuyukai 195 
Komiya Fukutaro 141 
Kondo Kenji 195 
Kondo Tomie 148 
Korea/Koreans 7-8, 9, 67, 71, 78-9, 
81, 84, 105, 109, 110 148, 194, 
196-7, 199-202, 211—15, 265 (22n, 
23n) 

Korean Independence Movement 
81-2 

Kosakuninsha 195 
Kotoku Shusui (Denjiro) 4, 7, 46, 
48-51, 55-6, 98, 108. 117, 124, 
128, 133, 147, 148, 150, 163, 167, 
169, 170, 172-7, 180 4, 186-9, 
227; letters from Kanno Suga 
178-80 

Kropotkin, Prince 109, 195, 210, 

227 

Kumamoto 129 
Kumoi Tatsuo 121-2 
Kurihara Kazuo 10-11, 66, 266 
(40n) 

Kutsumi Fusako 222 

LaFleur, W.R. 129, 132 
Landa, D. de 25 
Law to Control Radict 1 Social 
Movements (1922) 195 
Lawson, H. 16 
Levi-Strauss, C. 14 
life: constructions of 35, 55-8, 71-5, 
101-3, 103, 125, 230 
life-stories 27-32; see also Kaneko 
Fumiko; Kanno Suga 
Lifton, R.J. 89, 105-9, 110, 127, 

130, 132, 134 

Lippit, Noriko Mizuta 140 


Mahayana Buddhism 119 
Mainichi Denpd 162, 164 
Mainichi Shinbun 200 
Man, de P. 17 
Manchuria 148 

martyrs 15, 81, 83, 124-5, 134, 244 
(22n) 

Marx, Karl (Marxism) 18, 19, 195 
Masamune Hakucho 101 
Matsuda Michio 130, 172 
Matsumoto Sannosuke 115 
Maya 25, 115 

Meiji era 21, 22, 26, 116, 121-5, 

134, 174-5 

Meiji High Treason Incident 
(1910-11) 6, 9, 19, 92, 127, 167, 
168, 194 
Meirokusha 146 
metaphysics 96-105 
Michi no Tomo 91, 148, 154 
Mill, J.S. 97 
Mineo Setsudd 43 
Miroku Buddha 92 
Mishima Yukio 121, 208-9 
Miyashita Daikichi 7, 46, 123, 169, 
181, 182 

Mochizuki Kei 65 

M5ri Saian 155, 158, 159, 160-1, 

189 

Morinaga Eisaburo 9, 74 
Morris, I. 117, 120, 122 
Motoki 221 
Muraki Genjiro 131 
Murd Shinpd 154, 155, 156-7, 159, 
162, 167, 185 

Nakahama Tetsu 131 
Nakamura 208 
Nakayama Miki 92 
Nanba Daisuke 9 
Napoleon 99 
Nativism 117 
naturalism 252(67n) 

Nichiren 99 

Nietzsche, F. (Nietzschean) 16, 20, 
71, 72, 74, 90, 96, 98-9, 100-3, 
105, 115, 119, 133, 226, 251 (46n), 
252 (63n) 

nihilism 20, 71-5, 96, 195-6, 221-2, 
252 (77n); and heroism 118-26; 



Index 28 1 


Nietzsche on positive/awakened 
and negative/passive nihilism 72 
Nihirisuto 118 

Nihon Kirishitan Fujin Kyofukai 
91, 145, 146-7, 148, 153, 155, 156, 
157, 163, 165, 167, 172 
Nihon Shakaishugi Domei 195 
Niiyama Hatsuyo 8, 71, 81, 225, 268 
(123n) 

Niimura Tadao 181 
Nijubashi Incident 9, 50 
Nishida Kitaro 1 1 5, 251 (45n) 
Nishitani Keiji 115, 253 (8 In) 
Niiyama Hatsuyo 196, 225 
No plays 90 
Nogi, General 126, 134 
Norman, E.H. 121, 129 
Notehelfer, F.G. 7, 173, 264 
(162n) 

Numanami Masanori 43, 44 

Oishi Seinosuke 93, 127, 128 
Ono 223 

Ooms, H. 27, 30-1, 135 
Orientalism 89, 90, 1 14 
Osaka 44, 91, 145 
Osaka Chohb 142, 148, 150, 176 
Osugi Sakae 60, 79-80, 98, 101, 114, 
125, 130, 131, 166, 167, 171, 175, 

194, 195, 196, 199, 253 (85n) 

Pak Choon Sik (J. Boku Retsu) 7 
Pak Yeol (legal name, Pak Choon 
Sik) 7, 8, 9, 11-12, 25, 63, 65, 
66-7, 70-1, 81-5, 128, 193, 195, 
196, 198, 199, 200-1, 224, 226-7, 
228-9, 235, 236 
paternalism 21-7, 54-5, 234-5 
patricide/parricide 21—4, 234 
Peace Preservation Law (1925) 123, 

195, 235 

peasant rebellions 256 (54n) 
Perovskaya, S. 39, 122-3, 181, 183 
pessimism/optimism 55-6, 68, 72, 

75, 89, 90, 100, 102, 135, 245 
(6 In), 251 (53n), 253(8 In) 

Philipp, J. 16, 17 
‘physics’ 96-105 
Piovesana, G. 97 
Plekhanov, G.V. 116 


political culture 20-1, 34, 113 
Popular Rights Movement 163 
Portsmouth Treaty (1905) 148 
power 15, 17-20 
Public Peace Police Law 8 
Raynaud, J.-M. 29, 233 
Red Flag Incident (1908) 55, 167, 
170-1, 171, 176, 184, 185 
Reich, M.R. 105-7, 110, 127, 130, 
132, 134 
revolution 50-1 
Rikken Seiyukai 12 
Re do Undo 194 

Romanticism 109, 132, 253 (88n) 
Rousseau, J.-J. 97 
Rubin, J. 47, 92, 252 (67n) 

Russia 122, 149, 182, 195 
Russo-Japanese War (1904-5) 95, 
97, 116, 148 

Saeki Fumikazu 203, 204-7, 208 
Saeki-Iwashita Mutsu 211, 212, 213, 
214, 216, 218 
Saigo Takamori 121 
Saionji Kinmonchi 54, 167, 194 
Saiito Otomatsu 95, 221 
Sakai family 167 
Sakai Tameko 41, 166 
Sakai Toshihiko 40, 41, 44, 60, 127, 
148, 153, 167, 168, 189 
Sakamoto Seima 50-1, 166 
Sakura Sogo 127 
Salvation Army 95, 220, 221 
samurai 51, 61, 118, 120, 121, 

126-7, 128-9, 132, 174, 254 (16n), 
256 (54n) 

Schopenhauer, A. 99-100, 251 (53n) 
Schutte, O. 251 (46n) 

Segawa 223^1 
Seishinkai 194, 196 
SeitSsha 100 

Sekai Fujin 162, 163, 166, 169 
Sekirankai 195 
Selden, Kyoko Iriye 140 
self-assertion see ego/self -assertion 
self-presentation 14-15, 35 
self-sacrifice 122-3, 124-5, 128 
Setouchi Harumi 84, 85, 206 
sexual morality 174, 263 (130n) 
Shanghai 8, 69 



282 Index 


Shibuya 196 
Shimada Saburo 147 
Shimizu Unosuke 174 
Shinto 23, 51, 91, 94 
Shin’yukai 194, 196, 223 
Shoshunji temple 40, 41 
Sievers, S. 144, 145, 147, 156 
Sino-Japanese War 97 
Smith, R. 216 

Social Darwinism 96, 9'', 98, 101, 

121 

SSdomei 196 
Sorel, G. 114, 195 
Soto Zen 119 
Spencer, H. 96, 97, 98 
Stanley, T.A. 196 

Stirner, M. 20, 71, 74, 75, 82-3, 96, 
98, 101-3, 104-5, 115, 119, 121, 
195, 226, 247 (26n), 

252 (63n, 64n, 77n) 

Sugamo Prison 166 
suicide 63-8, 69, 77-8, 85, 99, 103, 
109, 132, 133, 242 (40n) 

Taisho era 21, 26, 125, 134, 235 
Takagi Kenmei 92 
Takayama ‘Chogyti’ 99 
‘Takeo’ 45 

Taketomi Wataru 24, 25, 26, 52, 
53-4, 171, 182-3 
Tanaka Kogo 131 
Tatematsu Kaisei 11, 2*1 — 5, 26, 35, 
66, 71, 72, 103, 192, 202, 224, 227, 
228, 230, 235, 257 (66n) 

Tenrikyo 88, 91-2, 93, 224 
thanatology 88, 89-91 
Tipton, E. 66 
Tochigi Prison 66 
Tokugawa 21, 44, 51, 93, 116, 120, 
124, 126, 127, 129, 135, 256 (54n) 
Tokyo 95, 162, 166, 177, 180, 194 
Tokyo Imperial University 97, 195, 
218 

Tokyo R5do Und5 Domeikai 195 


Toranomon (Sniper) Incident 9 
treachery 5-6 

True Pure Land Buddhism 46, 93, 
121, 125, 252 (79n) 

Tsuji Jun 101, 121, 252 (65n) 
Turgenev, I. 119 

Uchiyama Gud5 7, 169, 172, 262 
( 1 2 1 n) 

Udagawa Bunkai 141, 143-5 
UiySldan 9 

Uozumi Setsuro 255 (39n) 
Utsunomiya Prison 63 

Vaillant, A. 130 

victims 16, 18-19, 33, 35, 188 

Voline 116 

Wada Kyutaro 131, 195 
Wakatsuki Reijiro 9 
Wakayama 155, 159, 161, 185 
Walker, J. 127 
Welbom, G. 251 (46n) 

White, H. 14 

will to power 98-101, 251 (46n) 
Wiswell, E.L. 216 
Women’s Patriotic Association 
(Aikoku Fujinkai) 149, 163 

Yajima Kajiko 165-6 
yakuza 118, 120 

Yamagata Aritomo 54, 167, 189 
Yamakawa Hitoshi 168 
Yanaka village 162, 165, 166 
Yokohama 209 
Yomeigaku 114, 117 
Yosano Akiko 149, 259 (39n) 
Yoshikawa Morikuni 180, 188 
Yucatan Indians 25 
Yugawara 176-7, 186 

Zasulich, V. 122 

Zen 103, 105, 118-21, 121, 126, 127, 
129, 133, 254 (16n) 

Zdshigaya 46